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On World Mental Health Day, Myrrie Hayes reflects on family

by Ezekiel J. Walker
On World Mental Health Day, Myrrie Hayes reflects on family
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Since 1993, October 10th has been recognized as World Mental Health Day. Individuals and organizations have raised awareness of mental health issues worldwide, promoting information about what people can do if their mental health is a cause for concern. 

The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Myrrie Hayes, the Group Home Queen from Phoenix about insightful tips to share with families who have loved ones dealing with mental health illnesses. 

This year, the World Health Organization has chosen the theme “Back to Basics” for Mental Health Day. Yet, as a serial entrepreneur in charge of a staffing agency, consulting agency, training academy, there’s nothing basic about Hayes, however, like many of us, her success story came at a price worth more than money can buy. 

Hayes explains, “My motivation getting into mental health was my older sister, who once went into a manic episode and flew out [to see me] and told me I was going to take care of her.” Hayes can laugh about it now, but remembers shortly after her sister uprooted herself from Missouri to Arizona, caring for her sibling in a home until the day her sister sadly passed.

Turning pain into purpose is uniquely Black

That home would be the first of many in the Phoenix area which she would take care of others suffering as her sister once had. Now, Hayes advocates for mental health and encourages people to address what’s going on inside.

“A lot of us don’t understand people dealing with extreme mental health issues and how they’re kicked to the side or disregarded by their families due to past events and that’s why I wanted to do it – because my sister was experiencing that and I didn’t want other people to go through the same thing,” says Hayes.

More Black Americans are expressing a need for mental health services, according to new data from CVS Health and Morning Consult. The annual survey, now in its fifth year, shows that since 2020, there’s been an 11% increase in Black Americans reporting mental health concerns.

CVS Health’s 2022 data showed that since the pandemic, more than half of survey respondents said that they were more comfortable with engaging in discussions about mental health, while 58% are using digital tools to access care — like telemedicine.

While many of those respondents are of a younger generation who do not see a stigma associated with mental health, older generations of Black folks are often more reticent and outright against participating in anything related to addressing their innermost thoughts.

Hayes explains, “Because Black people are normally more religious than other cultures and within our culture people with mental health issues were once seem as demonic, possessed, or it’s dismissed as ‘oh, that’s just them’ and ‘all you need is Jesus.'”

Hayes elaborates, “Another reason too, there’s so much trauma embedded with being Black that people assume that you should ‘just be strong.’ I think many of us have been conditioned to get over everything when talking is what we need most.”

Though a reluctance to therapy may be a prevailing thought in older Black generations, Hayes has experienced different in her own mother, who is 91. Hayes proudly states, “She has the willingness and openness to recognize times are changing and she’s not afraid to change with it.” She continued, “My mom is open to learn and not be stuck in her ways.”

“People say power is knowledge but you have to execute on the knowledge,” says Hayes.

Asked what brings her peace in her life, Hayes exhaled before saying, “I like to decompress, and just sit and be. There’s so much going on in the world. Sometimes I like to just sit and be by a tree and ground myself for an hour and bask in God’s greatness. I do it at least once a week. It brings me happiness and connects me with God. I come away feeling so rejuvenated.”

You can learn more about Myrrie Hayes via her website.  

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