• Jasmine Fyffe

Mental (W)ealth

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

If you’re looking to learn more about how to better take care of your mental health, you've come to the right place! I've crafted five mental health related questions to ask Charisse Civil, a licensed Social Worker, family, individual and mental health counselor.

Charisse Civil started her work in 2007, working as a Supervisor in a day habilitation, specifically working with adults with learning and developmental disabilities for two years. Afterwards, she transitioned into the mental health field as a case manager working with individuals with mental disorders. During that time, she graduated from Hunters College with her MSW (Masters in Social Work). After, she transitioned into the ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) where she worked as part of an interdisciplinary team servicing individuals in the Bronx with severe mental illnesses and providing crisis management. In 2017, she got licensed and was hired by NYC health and hospitals, where she currently works under Woodhull Hospital- where she is providing counseling and assistance to individuals across the mental health spectrum that are also diagnosed with HIV.

1. I always say there's a thin line between sanity and insanity. What are some signs that a person may be reaching a mental compromise? What might they experience?

"You will begin to feel like you are no longer in the mood to engage in your normal daily activities. When it becomes more severe, you may lose interest in your typical self-care practices, such as bathing. You may also begin to feel restless often, especially when you are feeling very stressed. Restlessness is often an overlooked symptom. However, some people just experience bad days, but when bad days become more consistent, that is when someone should pay more attention to it and reach out to someone they trust for support."

2. What are some suggestions you have for how people can better take care of themselves, mentally? What are some proactive pro-tips?

"1. If you have at least one person you trust enough to speak to, you should use their support to get through a rough day or something else you may be going through. I often ask my clients who their support system is. I ask them who do they call when they are having a bad day or feeling sad. The biggest thing is to not deal with difficulties alone and to speak with someone you trust. 2. Try to put yourself in positive places. Engage in hobbies like going to the gym, listening to music, watching tv, if it brings you job, even if it is only for an hour. Working (or doing your regular routine) can become strenuous at times because we are often stuck doing things that we need to do instead of doing things that we want to do. Therefore, finding times for joy is imperative. Joy can be spending time with people and friends and/or a thing or hobby- anything that brings pleasure and allows you to de-stress."

3. What would you say to someone who believes that they do not need a therapist because they do not have a "problem"?

“Everyone is dealing with something. There's mental illness and mental health. Mental illness is when someone has a diagnosis. When people hear mental health, they are often thinking mental illness. People may avoid seeking support because they do not think they have a “problem”. Mental health covers a wide range from everyday struggles to serious illness and a therapist can help a person learn how to manage and navigate through it. This can be through learning various coping mechanisms up to psychotropic medications, for those who need it. There is no one size fits in therapy. And no ones journey will be the same. Also, because of the stigma around mental illness, many people will avoid seeking support because they do not understand the range of mental health. The reason why therapists are so beneficial is because they don't know you so their perspective is neutral. Therefore, their views excludes biases. You can walk into a therapy session and lay down your burdens without worrying about them judging you or any consequences for sharing your story”.

4. What is the best way for someone to go about finding a therapist? Are there any specifics that a person should consider and/or be mindful of when looking for a therapist?

"If you want to use your insurance, you can choose a therapist from the options provided for you through your insurance. If you are looking for someone specific, someone you think you could better identify with, you can go on google and search for a specific therapist through a non-profit organization. Taraji P. Henson has recently launched a foundation called borislhensonfoundation.org, that was developed to target the black community because of the stigma around mental health. The organization provides resource guides for finding a therapist for Black communities."
"If you go to a therapist page, you should read their bios so that you know what they are certified and trained in because some people are specialized in marriage and family therapy, eating disorders, etc. It is advised to look at what the therapist is experienced and specialized in, so that you are choosing someone who can support you with what you are struggling with specifically- IF you can identify on your own what you're struggling with. You shouldn’t be discouraged if you do not connect with the first therapist you sit down with. It may take time for you to find the one who you are most comfortable with."

5. Society has made many of us feel as if we have to constantly be on the "go" physically, but even more mentally. It alludes to this idea that there's always something to obtain or achieve, and the only way to get there is run yourself down to the ground. I'd personally like to exist in a world where working hard and being successful doesn't mean making many sacrifices that impacts me physically, mentally and spiritually. Given some of these societal norms, which can also contribute to anxiety, depression and etc.- What advice would you give those struggling with pacing, time and work-life balance?

"This question is hard. It can be really difficult to balance your work and life. I think people should continue to try and find time for themselves. We should also find moments to practice mindfulness by finding moments to breathe and be present in the moment- accepting that you might of had a hard day but that there's always tomorrow. We can also try thinking through the things we've accomplished instead of the things we didn't get done in that day. Mindfulness takes a lot of unlearning and a lot of practice but is super helpful. Never feel that whatever you're going through is too big or too small. No matter what you're going through, you should always talk to someone to help you get through it. Don’t let the fear or worry of what others may think keep you from taking care of yourself. You are too important!

Thank you, Charisse for doing this interview! You can follow her at @reesiie on IG.

(Stay tuned for my next blog post coming next week, on practicing ‘Mindfulness’!)