Patrice Douglas on Why You Should Start Caring About Your Mental Health
Mental health is often a topic that we are taught from childhood should not be discussed. Particularly in minority households, we are taught early on that our problems are confidential to the family and should not be discussed elsewhere. This stigma has shaped society’s view on therapy, anger management and mental health issues.
Yet, Patrice Douglas aims to change that by helping one person at a time see the importance of therapy and mental health. Dive deeper into our conversation with Patrice as she shares her insights on the importance of mental health and the impact she hopes to make through her career.
What was it like growing up in your household?
My childhood was very active and eventful because I wanted to do everything and be a part of everything. I was enrolled in beauty pageants, attended acting and modeling classes, and was very active in church which was something I loved to do.
I was known as the child with a lot of personality, but everyone said I would definitely be somebody one day. My parents were and still are very supportive of all my ideas and aspirations. They always tried to make anything I wanted come to life and I’ll be forever grateful for being blessed with them.
What insecurities did you face growing up? How did you overcome them or how are you dealing with them today?
I would say my biggest insecurity growing up was my personality. I went to Christian private schools until high school and there were only about 3 black children in my grade and we were all in separate classes.
I always felt different when around my classmates because of the cultural differences. I would express myself or talk differently than them and no matter how much I tried to change my personality I couldn’t.
As I entered high school and beyond, I started to accept who I was because I was able to form relationships with people who understood me and identified with me. It wasn’t until 2 months ago that I realized why I have this “booming” personality. I realized it’s because that’s how God wanted me to be to help others in my own special way.
What experiences inspired you to become an anger management specialist?
What inspired me to become an Anger Management Specialist was I was tired of people saying “don’t be angry” when I felt it is okay to be angry.
We have associated anger with aggression and violence, which only occurs when anger becomes out of control. Anger has so many positive and healthy benefits and I wanted to help educate as many people as possible.
In the past, anger management has been classified as an intervention used for people who were mandated by the courts to attend anger management classes. In other words, anger management was only for violent people. The key to true anger management is addressing the issues before it becomes a court date, so I want to inspire anyone who feels they need help with their anger to get help without feeling ashamed.
You’re currently in school pursuing higher education in your field. Tell us more about what you are pursuing, how will becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist impact your life?
I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Marriage and Family Therapy and will complete in the program this month, December 2016.
I was recently accepted into the Clinical Psychology PsyD program at The Chicago Psychology School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles to become a Licensed Psychologist and will began January 2017.
The Marriage and Family Therapy degree will allow me to provide therapy to individuals with substance abuse issues, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and many other things. I will also be able to provide therapy to couples and families who need assistance keeping the relationships intact.
Becoming a therapist was something I have envisioned since I was 9 years old, so now that I am almost finished with my degree I am just so excited to embark in my purpose. Becoming a Marriage and Family therapist will impact my life in so many positive ways because I will have the privilege to get to know so many people and help them overcome so many painful experiences in their lives.
It is such a great feeling when people feel comfortable to tell you their deepest darkest secrets and they say "I feel so good when I talk to you."
What is one thing many people do no truly understand about mental health?
One thing people do not understand about mental health is how extremely important it is to take care of it. We will invest thousands of dollars on clothing, accessories, shoes to look good for others, yet we act like $60-$100 is too much for therapy.
Just like eating healthy and exercise are keys to a longer healthier life, mental health is also essential. Every day we have life struggles and we often feel judged if we talk to our friends and family about our thoughts and feelings. Therapy gives you an outlet to talk about things that bother you and assists you in moving on so you can clear your mind without judgement.
Going to a therapist does not mean you are crazy, it means you are trying to help your mental health so you can be the best you can be!
As we move into 2017, if anything could happen, what is one thing that would make 2017 your best year to date?
One thing that would make 2017 my best year to date is impacting one life through therapy. A huge key in increasing awareness for mental health is breaking the stigmas.
In 2016, people are afraid to talk about their problems or avoid reaching out for help because we have labeled people by diagnoses or crazy. I currently have a t-shirt campaign on Teespring.com called “Therapy Saves Lives” and it’s a campaign that raises money to help people who cannot afford therapy. It gives them a chance to get a session or two paid for so that they can get the ball rolling. Not only does the shirt raise money but it also advocates how important therapy is and how it can really impact a life which brings more awareness to mental health.
Keep up with Patrice by following her on Instagram, @thepatricenicole.