UMOJA Workshop spreads Mental Health Awareness

Students advocate health in the Black community.

By Isabella Vodos, Staff Writer

Thirty UMOJA students attended the Black Mental Health workshop Monday, Feb. 28 to gain awareness of mental health struggles in the black community and close out Black History Month.

The workshop called Black Mental Health Matters, run by Chaun Lewis Green, gave Black students a space to come together to discuss problems that affect students in the Black community.

Green discussed mental health and its effects on people’s thoughts, feelings and actions. She talked about the different life stressors specific to the Black experience including topics like racism, poverty and discrimination. Images by renowned photographer Tsoku Maela were shared with attendees in addition to a film called “Still We Thrive” by Campbell Ex, to help students relate to the Black community and learn about their ancestral healers.

“Personally as a Black woman, I haven’t always felt centered or uplifted in the realm of mental health,” said Green. “Representation is key and historically the media hasn’t depicted Black people in a way that communicates our worthiness of mental care. Facilitating Black Mental Health Matters has been such an amazing experience because it’s a bridge that connects my soul’s passion with my lived experience.”

Attendees were asked to type the names of their relatives and ancestors into the chat box to celebrate their work and legacy.

The speaker honored her great-grandmother as an example to remind students that her black community came from a lineage of healers.

“I want to call in my great-grandmother Mary and bring her energy, wisdom, and love into this space,” said Green.

UMOJA promoted mental health by collaborating with Beam and Nami, two programs that teach individual organizations on how to implement healing and social justice in forming mental health strategies.

Green highlighted a wellness toolkit focusing on self care, emotions, interpersonal connections and mental health resources to improve psychological health. She also introduced the concept of “the feelings wheel,” which was used to demonstrate how unhealthy states of being can manifest into bad behavior and cause low self-esteem in a person.

Green opened the conversation to the students, asking what their favorite and least favorite thing is about being Black.

“Imposter syndrome is the worst thing,” said UMOJA student Destiny Chapron.

Imposter Syndrome is a mental feeling of doubting your skills and accomplishments.

The workshop ended with something called “A Mindful Minute” where attendees were urged to practice connecting with their bodies through poetry.

“I am Beautiful, some say enamoring, always open to listen to the overlooked,” Green’s poem stated. “You can catch me voraciously seeking wisdom. Enveloped in art, ear hustling the way wind dances with trees deem me dope. I am your beloved sister.”