Tag Archives: mental health

15Mar/19
Anthony Trucks

Former NFL Player Anthony Trucks Explains How Self-Love Affects Your Service

Anthony TrucksAnthony Trucks is currently one of the few football players to complete an American Ninja Warrior gauntlet. At 225lbs he really wasn’t expected to complete the gauntlet because the people that are normally able to complete these obstacles are around 160lbs. He approached the obstacles at the event like he approaches life, looking to only to do his best and nothing more. Taji Mag was able to talk to the competitor and former NFL athlete about the importance of self-love, life shifts, and overcoming obstacles as a current self-help coach, influencer, and inspirational speaker.

“Sometimes it takes years to really grasp what has happened to your life.” – Wilma Rudolph

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What is an Identity Shift?

Anthony Trucks (AT): “We have a lot of things that vastly change in life, things like relationships, income, family, and self-image. Along with that is what we desire to change and that change comes from not only our mindset and habits but our identity as well. When our identity becomes dialed into where you want it to be, the mindset and habits will fall into place smoothly. I believe that when you have identity anchors in place, life becomes easier and smooth.

We as individuals want more. More love, more freedom, more time, etc. But we want these things without changing our routines or schedule. Life doesn’t work that way. I think the desire for change came through the desire to want.

I’m always looking back at my life to evaluate my desire for that certain period and time. At that point I was thinking about why I wanted to close my gym, why I didn’t do anymore consulting or guest speaking. Well, about two years ago I decided that the last thing I want to be on my deathbed is the person I could’ve been.

DDF:  What gave you the strength you needed during your childhood?

AT: Being a kid, you know no other option. For me, I started to grow into my conscious mind as a young fostered child. I knew no better nor examined the difference between my self and other kids until I was exposed to more things. It is then I began to question “Why don’t I have new clothes or why are there holes in my shoes?” I was lucky enough to have a caring foster family to get me through difficult times in my life. The other thing that helped was that I had people outside of my family who helped facilitate me into programs and spoke positivity into me.

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.” -Muhammad Ali

DDF: What allowed you to move into your calling and current position after your career ending injury?

AT: The change from my NFL life was one of the big identity teachers for me, I think it’s a good teacher for anybody. I think what we do is what we become, much like if a person at a young age swings a bat every day, often times they become a baseball player. This happens to athletes and some people in the military. When you are an athlete, you base your sense of self-worth and guidance on this thing you do, but when the thing you do (career or activity)  is no more, you don’t know who you are.

I was smart enough to know that there may be an asterisk on the future of my football career, so I took care of my academics and made sure I graduated. When I came home, I started to figure out who I was because my life went from everyone wanting to talk to me and have me sign stuff to not even knowing my name because I didn’t play anymore due to my injury. That is definitely a difficult transition.

Anthony Trucks

I had to find a way to re-direct my energy into finding that new thing that made me feel as if I mattered. It helps me more when I find things that will help other people.

“We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou

DDF: Where did this re-directing of energy take you?

AT: I decided that I wanted to use my kinesiology degree to open a gym. There was a drawback, however. I became hyper-focused on the gym. At the same time, I had a family – wife and kids – but I neglected them all with my focus being to maintain and build this gym. Thinking that if I had this thriving business then it would be best for my kids but all they wanted was quality time with me, money or not.

DDF: How do you use self-love to be the best version of yourself?

AD: The reason that I am able to serve at a high level is that I love me. When you love someone, you not only tell them that you love them but you love them with action. You don’t want to let that person that you love down, no matter who it is. Yet, we don’t take this same perspective and reflect it internally.

We eat a crappy meal during a diet, we miss a workout, we don’t make phone calls to people to help ourselves, or we don’t chase a dream. It is during these times that you are not doing actions of love to the person you need to do it for the most and therefore you don’t show up. That makes you feel like you are not deserving and when you feel that way, you don’t put things out into the world. Self-love affects your service for sure.

DDF: You have a wonderful family and of course you are full of good advice. What advice do you give your children?

AT: It’s a daily conversation with my kids. As children get into their teens, they seek freedom, they seek autonomy. Freedom is like value. It’s like giving a kid $20 million dollars, if you don’t have experience then you will burn through it.

In regards to adults, freedom is you get to make the choices you want to make but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about responsible decisions.

I teach my kids how to be responsible and, with that, explain how this approach will allow them to attain any goal.

Anthony Trucks

Check Anthony Trucks via social media and follow up on his TV appearances on American Ninja Warrior and more here!

04Feb/19
the safe place

I am Black, I Have Mental Health Issues, and This is How it Feels for Me | The Safe Place

the safe placeJasmin Pierre is an activist, author, mental health advocate and creator of The Safe Place app. It’s an app made for people in the African Community to learn more about mental health and serve as a resource for those who need help getting the information that they need. Taji Mag was able to catch up with Jasmin to hear about her creation that can help educate people and, in some cases, save lives.

Dapper Dr.Feel (DDF): What inspired you to develop this app?

Jasmin Pierre (JP): I deal with mental issues myself. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 20. So, I’ve been comfortable talking about mental health for a long time because of the stigma it got from the Black community when it comes to mental health. We often hear we are supposed to be strong, Black women are supposed to be strong and just pray about it.

After finally dealing with my mental health and coming out about it, I realized there are many other people out there like me. I want to see those people talk about their mental health and get treatment if they need it.

“We need to accept that mental illness is a disease — and like any other disease, it needs stronger research, early screening, and treatment, especially for young people,” – NFL Reciever Brandon Marshall

DDF:  What is your biggest hurdle dealing with mental health?

JP: Some of us in the Black community have been told: “What happens in this house stays in this house.” It was really hard opening up to a stranger about my mental health issues. To admit, yes this going on with me, yes I need to talk about it and can you help me. That was the biggest problem for me.

FYI: Stigma and judgment prevent Black/African Americans from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. Research indicates that Black/African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Furthermore, many believe that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate even among family. – Williams, M. T. (2011)

DDF: What are the key steps for getting help?

JP: My step wasn’t the best one because when I finally realized I needed help, it was because of a suicide attempt. I don’t want people to get to that point. That is the reason I made the app in the first place, I want people to get help before they even think about suicide.

the safe place

DDF: How important is mental health to self-love, in your opinion? Do you think people separate the two?

I think it is really important. I see it as self-care. If we don’t take care of ourselves and we are constantly pouring into people and we have an empty cup, its just going to hinder us in the future. So I feel like we should have our cup full first before we pour into others.

DDF: Explain more about your #HowBlackDoesItFeel hashtag?

JP: I am a person of faith and I pray but I’ve also been dealing with mental health for over a decade. I feel like I’m in recovery now so far as my mental health issues but recovery doesn’t mean you are cured.  If I can still go through depressed stages and now I know I can take something for it, I still pray through all of that. God gave us resources for a reason and the Bible even says work without faith is dead. So why are we only telling people to pray about mental health issues, when the bible says you have to take steps forward to getting what you asked for?

We don’t do that with any physical illness. I mean if you have cancer, of course, the church is going to pray for you but they still expect you to see the doctor.

DDF: Explain self-care during police brutality. What made you approach this perspective?

I think that racial trauma is linked to mental health issues. Every time we see an unarmed Black man gunned down by the police, that is affecting our mental health issues. I remember seeing Alton Sterling being gunned down in Baton Rogue, LA. I live in New Orleans, that’s not too far from me. I felt anxious, sad, depressed and worried, and a lot of people felt the same way. I can’t imagine the people who are victims that survived police brutality, just imagine what they are going through mentally. I felt it was important to put that in there because I want people to realize that when this happens that it affects our mental health and we have to think of ourselves when it happens.

On July 5, 2016, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old black man, was shot dead at close range by two white Baton Rouge Police Department officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

JP: I wanted people in the Black community to express how Black does it feel to have mental health issues in America. Not only do we have to deal with racial trauma and all these other issues as Black people but also, within our own community, we are downplaying mental health.

We are saying mental issues are not serious and therapy is just for white people. I wanted to take time to say I am Black, I have mental health issues, and this is how it feels for me.

FYI: Per Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, while implementation of the Affordable Care Act has helped to close the gap in uninsured individuals, 15.9 percent of Black/African Americans, versus 11.1 percent of whites Americans were still uninsured in 2014.

DDF: You have free classes offered on your website, what should people expect from it?

JP: Readers should expect to be more informed about mental health, that specifically deals with the Black community and how to erase the stigma in the Black community. The classes are to also spread awareness in the psychology and therapy community. A lot of people don’t understand that those books are westernized, a lot of those issues don’t cover too much on Black culture. We need more minority-based resources out there and that’s is what I aim to teach in my classes.

FYI: Per the American Psychological Association, because less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black/African American, some may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues.

Terry Crews the safe place

Actor Terry Crews shared a story about being sexually assaulted by a Hollywood Executive last year.

DDF: How do you feel about Terry Crews coming out about his sexual assault story, how difficult do think that was for him and his mental health? 

JP: I can relate the whole Terry Crews to the R. Kelly situation. These women aren’t being believed that they were sexually assaulted by R. Kelly.  I feel it was just as bad for Terry because his people believe that just because he is a Black man, that he is just supposed to take that and be strong about it. People think “Oh, why didn’t he just fight him?” I feel like more stigma was put on him because he was a man and he decides to speak about this.

DDF: Out of the many people that reach out to you, what majority reach out to you most, men or women?

JP: Women tend to reach out more to me but there is a good percentage of men too and I am happy that they feel like they can. I just wish there were more. I feel like women are ok with speaking about their issues and receiving feedback. As we mentioned before though, men are expected to be strong all the time and suppress their emotion. They are not even expected to cry. It may be a while before we see more Black men opening up, but it needs to happen.

DDF: What advice would you give to anyone afraid to reach out?

JP: Do not be ashamed that this is happening to you, it’s nothing you have to be embarrassed about. Even if someone in your family or friends tell you that you shouldn’t get the help and support that you need, don’t believe them. You do deserve the help, the support, and therapy if you need to.  

Jasmin Piere hopes to develop more partnerships and keep spreading the word about Black mental health awareness as a black mental health advocate. You can download her app here for android or apple.  Check out her personal page.

the safe place

the safe place

Jasmin’s book ” A Fight Worth Finishing”

Some of the facts and stats were provided by Mental Health of America.

03Feb/19
Self-Love

Self-Love Is Not a New Concept, Self-Care Just Happens to Be Trending

It’s weird that self-love is trending at a time when most of the Black women I know are struggling so acutely. On the flip side, some of the most toxic people on my timeline are boasting about their ability to cut out people who don’t “spark joy”. It feels like Black women aren’t allowed to be depressed or vulnerable. There’s so much filler out there, but how can we truly practice self-care and self-love with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

Here are 5 tips for self-care. These self-care tips are broken down into the physical projection, spiritual healing, intellectual release, mental deflating, and aromatherapy. These are small, actionable steps that can lead to a much healthier disposition.

1. Self-LoveHit something: There is so much going on. And for those of us in the corporate space, we have to code switch so many times a day, it can literally make us sick. Between juggling a career, a family, and a dream, there are so many instances where we want to slap someone but have to repress the urge. That energy doesn’t just disappear though. Instead of letting it fester, just hit something. Kickboxing is an excellent way to let that stress go. This sort of physical projection can be really fun too. You can even tape a phrase (or face) to a punching bag and hit it. Maybe it helps you to growl out your racist supervisor’s name with your tennis racket hits the ball. Regardless of what it actually represents, I encourage you to hit something. Hit it hard and hit it often.

2. Self-LoveSay “AH”: When I lived in DC, singer Tamika Love Jones taught a toddler class for Black children in Anacostia Park. One thing she said to me years ago when my son was in her class was this: “Just about every spiritual practice says “ah”. That ‘ah’ sound is in every God’s name I can think of. Allah, God, Buddha, Jah, Ra. Chanting the sound can bring you to a place of peace. Let it serve as an anchor.” Sometimes the world’s insanity is raining down and hitting you harder than a hail storm. It may take everything in you not to break. In those moments, sometimes you call on your God, your ancestors, the universe, and whatever centers you by just saying “AH”. Allow yourself the room to meditate on the sound. Whether you do it for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, you owe it to yourself to say “ah.”

3. Write it out: You know on Insecure when Issa gets in that mirror and pumps herself up or has one-sided rap battles in the bathroom? Well, you too can stretch out those tired latent gangster muscles with a verse, prose, poem, song, or limerick—yes, I said limerick. I’m a nerd. It doesn’t stop there though. Journaling is an excellent way to practice self-care. Doing it before you sleep can help ease anxiety. Dr. Joy of the Black Girl Therapy podcast even has a breakup journal! If you write it out, you’re one step closer to working it out. Continue reading

11Dec/18

Health: How Can Start Ups Partner Responsibly?

Health and technology are intersecting in interesting ways lately. Coping mechanisms like group therapy are more socially acceptable. Now is the time for Black tech developers to carve space in the health field to ensure diversity & inclusion remain a top priority. Solome Tibebu is a  Investor for  and founder of  501c3. Sis is also the co-author of  behavioral IT Innovation. She shares some behavioral health start up tips for emerging entrepreneurs.

Original health expert & writer: Solome Tibebu.  This article was re-posted with the author’s permission – you can read the full article HERE.

How Behavioral Health Startups and Payers Can Partner Successfully

Solome Tibebu

Over the last five years, a plethora of mental health and substance abuse startups has skyrocketed. And rightly so. Many of these solutions are finding ways to reduce the cost of care delivery, improve quality of care, reduce inappropriate healthcare service utilization. [They also] increase PCP usage, and increase staff capacity in an area where qualified professionals are few and far between.

Many payers still aren’t very sophisticated about implementing digital behavioral health tools yet. Innovators must be prepared to offer considerable education for payers to adopt such offerings. Payers are complex organizations to navigate, and launching a new solution of any kind isn’t easy. This post is intended to equip both innovators and incumbents to partner in addressing our society’s most pressing behavioral health issues.

Now, payers have moved from “it matters” to “now what do we do?!” with many still struggling with the best course of action. Payers are recognizing the value that frontier technologies and startups with new care delivery models can make on their businesses, such as:

  • The ability to improve patient outcomes via tech-enabled delivery of evidence-based practices
  • Access to local and regional mental health care professionals and delivery networks employed by the behavioral health startups
  • Reduced cost of care delivery through AI, machine learning, chatbots and other automation tools
  • The right solutions to continue adding value to members at any acuity or stage of care
  • Enhanced data, analytics and care coordination from their existing health IT tools
  • Overall more consumer-friendly experiences
Too much of what payers are adopting today are made up of one-size-fits-all models.

When it comes to behavioral health, payers need to offer condition-specific solutions and provider networks for a wide variety of mental health and substance use issues. Today, you can find a huge list of professionals listed on their provider network portals, most of whom appear as experts in many or all behavioral health conditions. Adding more specialty areas to their profiles will get them more referrals, after all. But this comes with several issues:

  • Of course, not all behavioral health professionals are experts in each and every behavioral health condition. Behavioral health is an umbrella term for many specific conditions, each with their own evidence-based treatment modalities. Providers with such experience in certain specialty areas may be few and far between in many parts of the country
  • Payers have very little ability to actually determine who’s really good at treating what types of members
  • Payers cannot verify whether or not these providers are using evidence-based practices
Historically, these networks have been built to meet employer/Medicaid geography and credentialing requirements. As a result, [they are] stuck in the old ways of doing things.

mental health and stressDon’t treat behavioral health as one homogenous disease state. Payers need the tools to support the many diverse subsets of behavioral health. There is an opportunity for payers to adopt new tools which more accurately look at behavioral health as the wide umbrella that it is, offering condition-specific solutions that match up with condition-specific provider networks.

Tech startups can enable a future where payer networks can transform from local, multi-specialty providers to national, tech-enabled providers with the ability to deploy local, high-touch clinicians within their own specialized delivery systems. With better technology and analytics, payers will also be in a position to operate their own provider clinics. The opportunity is further supported by new payment models offered through CMS, including new Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) codes and proposed expansion on current substance use telehealth coverage.

To capitalize on these opportunities, it is critical for internal and external stakeholders to navigate complex payer organizations, especially as it relates to partnering with startups.

Clearly, both parties want to go to the dance, but will they ever connect?! Below, I’ll outline three key areas to keep in mind when partnering with an integrated health system: the Prep, the Pitch and the Plan, and accompanying tips for each.

THE PREP

How does one start a conversation with a payer? Early-stage entrepreneurs can get a head start navigating their prospective payer partners through these steps:

Where to look:

When it comes to partnering with certain departments within a payer organization, you may be tempted to focus on the Innovation department exclusively. Innovation departments are important partners for startups, oftentimes greatly helping the startup navigate to the correct department internally. But beware, they don’t typically have their own P&L, so you may find yourself in Free Pilot Land indefinitely. If they’re a tech-enabled provider, plan to approach clinical and provider network leadership. Expect to contract with behavioral health specialty companies, or the behavioral health specialty business units within the integrated payer systems. Sometimes a connection through non-traditional paths will get you to the right department, e.g. sales team members who are sympathetic to your cause. But sooner than later, identify the right person who can make decisions and write checks.

Understand your market, solution and impact better than anyone else.

This includes the ability to communicate each of these clearly and succinctly to the person in leadership who actually has your pain point. What motivation does this specific payer department leader have to pick up the phone? Just because you are saving dollars in the overall healthcare system doesn’t necessarily mean it hits this individual’s bottom line.

Consider smaller organizations first.

These smaller payers want to offer competitive offerings and may not already have a solution in place. The smaller organizations with smaller executive teams may be far more nimble than an organization like Kaiser or Mt Sinai. Consider starting with one of these first and get your proof of concept up and running there initially.

Consider getting outside support.

Remember, payers are complex organizations. There are a number of healthcare accelerators who have existing relationships with many healthcare organizations. These organizations can provide seed funding, coaching and connections to health systems to shorten the sales cycle. While advisors, board members, and other entrepreneurs can make a huge difference, someone like a dedicated, vetted consultant with a strong track record can help save startups months if not years by making outside connections very quickly.

Identify the key person who will drive your startup forward internally.

It is best practice to identify an internal champion at your payer prospect. [This will] help move your startup forward within their organization. If your champion isn’t willing to give you what you need to be successful (e.g. certain claims data, information for integration, etc), then they aren’t your champion. How do you find a champion? Leverage advisors, board members and other digital health entrepreneurs in your network to introduce you to payers of interest.

Know how decisions get made.

Ask your champion what their typical process is for working with organizations like yours. Sometimes the smallest hiccup can kill an entire deal, so be sure to stay close to the process all throughout.

Engage decision makers and influential non-decision makers alike through the entire process.

Make sure there is alignment among executive, clinical, or any other type of leadership critical to the implementation and adoption of your solution throughout the procurement and implementation process.

Once various preparations have been made about your specific solution, it’s time to dig into how you’ll position your offering with the payer and where your each parties’ assets and gaps are in the partnership.

THE PITCH

Save tons of time and resources down the road. Here is a high-level list for what startups should review before charging forth with a partnership with a payer organization:

  1. Know what specialty offerings the payer already offers their member base.
  2. Understand where behavioral health sits in the payer’s ecosystem.
  3. Think through your approach to data.
  4. Evaluate your strengths vs what the payer can bring for the most fruitful partnership.
  5. Know your outcomes, now and in the future.
  6. Be realistic about what your capabilities truly are, especially with the most complex patients.

THE PLAN

Now it’s time to start exploring an actual partnership. While there are many ways structure a partnership, we will cover some common themes.

  1. Business models should align with incentives. 
  2. Thoughtfulness required for integration: technically, operationally, and clinically. 
  3. Implementation as a process. 

In conclusion, all of the simple, low-hanging fruit tools and technologies have been tried. Payers desire novel, evidence-based solutions. With the right people at the table and a laser-focus on the clinical and financial impacts the partnership will make, there is a lot of promise for novel behavioral health solutions to transform care delivery and patient outcomes in the near future.

Solome Tibebu is a healthcare investor and former mental health tech startup founder.

Her work as an investor, entrepreneur and health and human service technology expert has been featured in The Huffington Post, Forbes, TEDx, Inc Magazine, Upworthy, Psychology Today and more.

24Apr/18
Derrick Jaxn

“You Are Attractive, but Are You Good For My Mental Health?” with Derrick Jaxn

Derrick JaxnThere is a reason that the online dating industry makes over $3B each year since 2010 according to IBISWorld.com. Most of the population is looking to find a partner to share our lives with. Along with that comes the difficulty of learning people and what we can deal with. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in a relationship is the mental aspect of love and, in some cases, it’s difficult and, sometimes, scary. This is why oftentimes we ask ourselves “Are you good for my mental health?” whenever we find a possible suitor we deem attractive. Taji Mag interviewed author and self-love/relationship advocate Derrick Jaxn about his thoughts on love, dating, and mental health.

Taji Mag: There is a quote circulating on social media that says “You are attractive, but are you good for my mental health.” What does that mean to you?

Derrick Jaxn: I think it is adult and a mature way to look at it. While dating we focus so much on instant gratification that we forget what happens on the back end and we end up paying for it in the end in a lot of instances. A lot of people need to take that approach. It’s kinda like when you get food, it may look good, it may smell good,  but what is the nutritional makeup.

Taji Mag: In terms of maturity level, is there any noticeable development in judgment while dating that you have noticed with yourself?

Derrick Jaxn: It’s kind of like the bible verse (1 Corinthians 13:11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. In our youth, we are products of our environment but when you grow up, you no longer have that excuse and so now, as an older version of yourself, you are a product of your experiences. Now I have experienced women on a different level, more than what they can do for me sexually or whatever way I can use them. I know that’s a dark description of how we can objectify women, but we have to grow to see them as more valuable because society does not condition us that way.

Taji Mag: Can you give a good example of what you are talking about?

Derrick Jaxn: If you have a mom and dad that are both good influences, the media will inundate with images of women that are strictly for our consumption in the perspective of a man. On the other side of that attractive woman is a heart and a lot of trauma comes when you break that heart. It creates damage when you manipulate the mind and I have grown to know that especially now that I speak on behalf of relationships. A lot of times, it is women who are asking me to speak on their situations and it’s a sobering reality to hear about the things we put them through so casually.

Taji Mag: Sounds like you take to heart what women say and it’s very concerning what they go through.

Derrick Jaxn: I am very passionate about what I talk about because we have to change that culture. We can’t wait until our daughter is 16 about to go on a date to pull out a shotgun to care about women. We have to do our part now and shape things into the way we want them.

Taji Mag: How can you identify when you are in a mentally unhealthy relationship?

Derrick Jaxn: I have my bouts with mental health that I don’t play with. I am married now but, while I was dating, whenever situations blurred the line of toxicity or compromised my mental health, I made sure to nip it in the bud. I can’t afford to be played with because I already have a daily struggle. If you know anyone that struggles with mental health, they don’t always feel in control of their thoughts, moods, or emotions. You don’t need another opponent when you have that daily challenge. For me, I have never been in an unhealthy relationship, if there were situations where I felt whomever I was dating was playing with me or my emotions it got nipped in the bud real quick!

During the journey to find love it is important to listen to your heart and seek emotional tranquility than to fall ill to mental toxicity from another. It is easier said than done but that is the beauty of life, to learn as we go and discover what makes us happy.

“Unlike many other journeys, when it comes to finding self and matters of the heart you’ll swiftly find yourself lost if you follow someone else’s” – Rasheed Ogunlaru