The Access Point : Protecting Your Mental Health (w/ Dr. Jide Bamishigbin)

This is the podcast adaptation of the ninth episode of The Access Point! This one’s centered around protecting your mental health. Special thanks to our incredible guest host, Dr. Jide Bamishigbin! Part of the Living Corporate network, The Access Point is a weekly webinar preparing Black and brown college students for the workforce. If you’re looking to jump-start your career, this is content you want to follow. Subscribe to us today!

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TRANSCRIPT

Tiffany (00:53): Hey everybody. My name is Tiffany Waddell Tate. I’m here with a couple of good friends, new friends, old friends here on Living Corporate. If you are new to Living Corporate it is a writing and podcasting platform dedicated to exploring and celebrating underrepresented identities in corporate America. We are early to mid-career consultants who came together based on our shared desire to have frank, real conversations about the ways we exist, survive, and succeed in corporate spaces. As a collective, we represent a broad spectrum of beliefs, cultures, and identities, and we know that our differences have shaped our perspectives and experience in the world of work. We want to engage each other as voices that often go unheard, and have our conversations out loud. So know that Living Corporate is for anyone who wants to have these conversations with us, and push the needle forward on how we can create, and sustain spaces that reflect true inclusiveness. Brandon.

Brandon (01:53): Yes. Welcome everybody, my name is Brandon Gordon, and we want to talk to you about The Access Point. This is why you’re here today. Welcome to The Access Point, where is part of the Living Corporate network. The Access Point is a weekly web show where we strive to bring out real talk and prepare you for the workforce. While our content is for everyone, we’re focused on preparing black and brown color students, just as yourself, for future work. Every week, we’ll have an incredible guest to help us discussing the topic at hand. And this week we have Dr. Olajide Bamishigbin, Associate Professor at California State University, Long Beach, California. Introduce yourself, doctor, how you doing?

Dr. Jide (02:29): Hey, Tiffany and Brandon. Thanks for having me. Hi, everybody out there watching. My name is Dr. Olajide Bamishigbin. I usually go by Jide. As Brandon said, I’m an assistant professor of psychology at California State University Long Beach. I’m originally from Miami, Florida, and I got my BA in psychology from the University of Miami. After that, I went to UCLA, go Bruins, where I got my Ph.D. in health psychology, and I worked at Cal State Los Angeles or California State University, Los Angeles for three years. And now, currently, I’m at California State University Long Beach. You know, I teach lots of different classes on psychology like racial, ethnic minority mental health, positive psychology; post-social psychology, health psychology. And I do research focused specifically on the relationships between stress, resilience, and health. And in general, my focus is on families, and fathers and how stress impacts fathers. But broadly speaking, I’m an expert on how stress impacts us. Thanks for having me. And I came here today because I’m really passionate about mental health. The health thing that I’m most focused on is depression. And I’m an expert on the topic. I care about it. I want people to be better because it can be debilitating, and it can negatively impact your ability to function in this world. So, once again, thanks for having me and I’m excited for this conversation.

Brandon (03:57): So that brings us to our very first question. You know, we talk about mental health. What is mental health?

Dr. Jide (04:03): That’s a great question. Right. so what is health, right? Like what, what, what is health? Right? So in general, health is just a state of wellbeing, you know and when we think about physical health, we’re talking about how our physical bodies are doing, like how our insides are doing, how we make physically feel how, how well we’re doing for mental health. We’re focused on all the aspects kind of up here, right? How are our thoughts? How are our behaviors, how our actions and how has that impacting us in our ability to function, right with a focus. And once again, our focus on stress and depression, but, you know, mental health cares about, you know, once again, your feelings, your thoughts, your actions, the types of stress that you’re experiencing.

Brandon (04:55): And so it’s one I was gonna type it, type this questionnaire, but I wanted to bring this question, you know, most mental health, especially in the black community is a very taboo subject. So how can somebody open a discussion to talk about their mental health? It’s a really unpack of what what’s going on inside of them.

Dr. Jide (05:17): Yeah. I think that’s a good question. So, you know, one thing is that we all do these things all the time, right? So anytime you say, man, I’m feeling kind of stressed out right now, right now you’re talking about your mental health and you’re talking about the way you’re feeling and how it’s impacting you. Right. And so I think, you know, it’s really about under understanding that mental health is something that shouldn’t be stigmatized right. Or talking about it in certain ways, such that depression and anxiety, aren’t things that are negative and maybe type of way. Yeah.

Brandon (05:53): So that’s a coffee wisdom, but why is mental health stigmatized in the black community?

Dr. Jide (06:01): That is a really good question. I think part of it is that, you know, historically, mental health I think is associated with the field of psychology. And, you know, just honestly the field of psychology has kind of racist roots. And many therapists and social workers, you know, don’t understand what it’s like to be black, or a member of racial and ethnic minority community. So, they’re not able to accurately, or provide the best care that they can give. So a lot of people may have had experiences talking to somebody and it doesn’t go well. A big factor of that, you know, a lot of people talk about is that you can get mental health kind of support from different sources. One source that many black people get it from is church. You go to your pastor or you go to your religious leader and they provide some type of mental health service to you, or support for you. So that might be one, one reason why there’s kind of this stigma against it. Because, well, I don’t need to go to those people. People are gonna think I’m crazy if they find out I have a therapist or a psychiatrist. And you don’t want to be crazy.

Tiffany (07:07): I’m definitely team therapy, and have been for a long time. But you know, I had the happy incident I’ll say of attending a college where the counseling resources on campus were highlighted. I wouldn’t say it was normalized among all of my friends, but it kind of seemed normal enough at the time, to at least try it out and it was available for free. So, a lot of the folks tuning in tonight and listening are either in college right now, or they’re about to graduate or they may have recently graduated. So what steps do you think college students and recent grads need to keep in mind when it comes to prioritizing their mental health and wellness? Like, what does that look like? Is there an action plan you encourage people to start with?

Dr. Jide (07:55): So I think when you care about your mental health, I think first is you have to understand that your mental health is your responsibility. Like your health is on you. Things that happened to are not your fault, but it’s your responsibility to figure out how you’re going to handle it. How are you going to deal with it? How are you going to move forward? So it’s very important that people recognize that. Two, mental health is a part of your health. So if you have a heart attack, you’re not about to go into work the next day and say, oh, I had a heart attack, but I gotta go to work. Nah. Same thing. If you’re feeling depressed, if you’re feeling anxious, you need to take time to heal.

(08:42): And take the efforts to make yourself feel better, if that is therapy. There’s lots of other strategies you can use. And we’ll talk about that probably a little bit later on. Well, it’s part of your health, and recognize that as important. That’s part of the first step, recognizing that, you know, this is something that’s really important. Two your mental health and your physical health are connected. So this is another big part. When you’re stressed out, sometimes you might get headaches, sometimes your stomach hurts. That’s just a quick little example of the different ways. Some people after they have a big test, they’ve been studying for it for weeks, then they get sick. That’s part of your body getting ready. And they’re like, okay, I’m going to get you ready for this big thing. But after that, you’re pumped. My body’s tired. So recognize that these things are intimately connected. Last, knowing that if you don’t attend to your mental health, the rest of your life will not be as good as it could be. You’re not living your optimal life, if you are not working on the depression. Not necessarily the depression itself, but it’s that you’re taking the steps to handle how you’re feeling. Handle the types of different stresses that you’re experiencing in your life.

Tiffany (10:05): Okay. That’s for real, I think it might be a little hard for some people to hear that your mental health is your responsibility. Because it does often feel like things are happening to us or, school is supposed to be stressful. Work is supposed to be stressful, but if it’s not, we must be doing something wrong. So I would love to hear a little bit more about like, how do you categorize stress? Is that even a fair question? Like, is stress always bad? How do you know you’re teetering to [inaudible 00:10:38]? Like, what does that look like? And how can people start to assess that for themselves?

Dr. Jide (10:44): That is a great question. So stress, you know, I have my PhD in health psychology. I study stress. I could go on a dissertation and talk about this for hours and hours. Okay. But generally, stress can be three different types of things, if I’m going to break this down. Stress can be a stressor, something that stresses you out. So like, Ooh, you know, I have a test, that’s a stressor. I got in a car accident today. I got a stressor. Oh, there was traffic. That’s a stressor, things that stress you out.

(11:18): Stress can be a response. So something happens to you, now I’m feeling kind of flushed, I’m feeling sweaty. You know, my heart’s beating kind of fast. Is a stressor. And then there’s stressor that depends, in essence. So the same things that stress me out, are not going to be the same things that stress you out, are not going to be the same things that stress somebody else out. So I love roller coasters. My wife doesn’t like roller coasters. So she’s going to be stressed. I’m going to be excited. So in general, those are kind of different ways to think about it.

(11:57): And even further there’s stresses in different domains of your life. So you can have stress in your relationship, you can have stress at school. That’s a big one. And you know there’s a lot of research showing that college students right now, are more stressed than they’ve ever been.

Brandon (12:17): Yes. That’s so fact.

Dr. Jide (12:19): It’s more stress than they’ve ever been. And their mental health is suffering as a result of it. They have far, far higher rates of suicidal ideation, far, far higher rates of serious psychological distress right now. Far, far, higher rates of depression and anxiety than, you know, years before. So it’s really affecting, the types of stress that you’re experiencing in the academic environment. Be it test, work, a pandemic happening right now. That’s making all these things so much harder. Another one that, and this is kind of what we talked about a lot is, job stress. The stress that comes from working in a job, and the kind of different things that you’ll experience in work. You know, at the end of the day, stress is a part of our lives. You know, it is a part of our lives, but if it’s becoming to the point where it’s impacting your ability to live the life that you want. Or do the things that you normally do, then that might be the time to say, you know, I think I should do something about it.

Brandon (13:19): Hmm. Okay. So I have a question so, well, I’ll have a conversation with my wife earlier about, [inaudible 00:13:25] really taking mental breaks. So, how often should you take a mental break from life? How often should you just really just turn your brain off, and just go on cruise control. And just really let stress get out your system, and get out your body, and get out from stressful situations to make yourself better?

Dr. Jide (13:44): You know, I would say that we’re probably not doing good enough. Whatever amount that you know, we’re probably doing right now is probably not enough. How much? Once again, it depends on everybody. and the different levels of stressors that you’re experiencing. But I would say that it’s important. I don’t think weekends are enough. I’ll say that. You work for five days and then you have two days a weekend and I don’t think that’s enough time to recharge. But, you should take it when you need it. I think that’s really it. Like when you’re feeling overwhelmed, life goes on without you. Your workplace will continue without you. Your school will go on without you. You need to make time for yourself. Whatever that mental break is. And for everybody it’s different, but, you gotta make that time for yourself

Brandon (14:36): And dealing with mental health and stress, I’ve noticed an up-take in drug usage, especially in our community, not just the black community, but the community. So how does drug usage, and this chemical dependence, and what type of drug you’re using, how does it affect you in your mental health and your stress level?

Dr. Jide (14:57): Whoo boy, that is a really good point. So, as you said, there’s a lot of research showing that during this pandemic drug and alcohol use has skyrocketed, all across the country. And you know, one reason why, is that a lot of people view drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with different types of stress. But the reality is, it does not make you feel better, especially long-term drug use. It does not make you feel better. In fact, alcohol itself is a depressant. It makes you feel depressed. Marijuana use, long-term marijuana use it’ll have you feeling chronically fatigued. There’s other types of drugs. More than anything, they cause more problems than they’re solving. Like, oh, I was feeling stressed out at work today, I’m going to do this, do this substance or whatever. Sure. In that like little gap of time, you might feel better. But work’s still going to be there. The next day, the week after, the month after, work’s still going to be there, you’re going to have those stresses. You have to find a more constructive way to manage it, because the chronic drug use and the chronic alcohol use, will leave you with the dependency. That impacts you. It makes you feel bad.

Tiffany (16:17): Whoo, that’s tough. I mean, I think definitely for the college crowd, for sure. Sometimes that is the first time like that 2, 4, 6 years of time in college, might be the time that you are experimenting with different substances or trying to figure it out. And buy it, I mean everything, your life out here on your own in some capacity. And so, I think that’s really heavy. How do boundaries around or creating boundaries around your work and personal life play into this conversation about protecting your mental health?

Dr. Jide (17:00): Absolutely. That is so important. So, the reality is work is a part of all our lives. We all need to eat, we all gotta pay our rent, our mortgage. So I understand that. And we all don’t have jobs that we can, I mean, who, not many people have jobs that they can just leave at any time. So wherever you are, it’s important that you make the space to create those healthy boundaries for you.

(17:28): So I’ll tell you a quick little story. Okay. You know, I’m married, my wife, she just got her PhD this year. Congrats. I have two sons. A five-year-old and two-year-old. So, my son’s first birthday. Okay. My son’s first birthday it has little daycare. They were going to have like a little party. But I had some work thing and I was like, ah, I can’t really go to this little thing. I have to go to work. You know, to this day, I don’t even remember what that work thing was. But I know I didn’t get to go to my son’s first birthday. A more important event. A much more powerful thing. And I don’t even remember what the work thing was. I remember what the school thing was. And I felt like it was the biggest thing and I had to do it. So it’s important to develop those boundaries on your life, because, your life continues and your work is just a part of you. So how do you do that?

(18:27): Well, first I always want to point out it’s the responsibility of the workplace to do these things first. And to make sure that they have healthy employees. So always want to start off with the structural issues of, the structure needs to be in place to make sure that employees can be healthy. You don’t want to encourage a type of culture that has people overworked, overloaded, super stressed out, a lot of conflict in the workplace. You don’t want to have that, but with that being said, you want to be; how do I say this? To set those boundaries for yourself still. And whatever that means for you, because everybody is different. Some people really like their work and they want to spend all their weekends working. Who am I to tell you no, you shouldn’t do that. Nah.

(19:25): If that’s what you want to do, if that brings you joy. Great. But, outside of that, you have to be able to put your phone down, put your email away, and get to it next morning, because it’ll still be there. The world doesn’t revolve around us. As much as people will try to convince us that it does. And thinking about the office space, there’s the office space and the structure of the office. So making sure that people feel that they have enough hours to work. That they have flexibility in their work. And then that they have the ability to schedule the work in a time that’s important for them or good for them. And then the psychological aspect of the work, which is making sure the work fits your pace. Making sure that the workplace is managing different conflicts that may occur between people. And making sure that it’s a workspace that people can feel positive at. That it’s a space where there’s not like negative moods going on. It’s a positive space. So all those things are important to encouraging I think a healthy workplace.

Tiffany (20:35): That’s good stuff. We had a guest a few days ago that really dug into this concept of boundaries. And one of the things that definitely has stuck with me, since that conversation, is the idea that people at work are not your friends. You might make friends there, but we talked a bit about how creating boundaries between work and home can often be a healthy practice. Because if you’re looking for everything at work to fulfil you, or every relationship at work to take the place of the ones you have outside. And something goes south, then you’re like, you still gotta work. [inaudible 00:21:12]. So that’s good. I love how you kind of broke down like first, structurally the company or the organization really is responsible for creating an environment where people can prioritize their health and wellness. That’s huge. And I think that’s huge. And I think we are long overdue for a paradigm shift related to this.

Dr. Jide (21:36): Absolutely.

Brandon (21:38): And there’s a lot of research showing that even workers who feel better do better. So even if you’re a boss and you know, you only care about making money and doing fine. Hopefully you care about people, but if you only care about making money, the better you treat your people, the more money you’ll make. So also, that’s a reason to do it.

Tiffany (22:01): Yes. So [inaudible 00:22:01] oh, go ahead, Brandon.

Brandon (22:07): Oh no. Go ahead. Go ahead. I [inaudible 00:22:07] wisdom. Go ahead.

Tiffany (22:07): How has COVID-19 and the fact that, we’ve definitely talked about it a little bit tonight, but we’re going to hold the [inaudible 00:22:14]. In what ways do you think that COVID-19 has affected this conversation around mental health and working professionals?

Dr. Jide (22:24): You know, it so depends. Like it so depends on the job you’re working and the field you’re in. I mean, COVID-19 has changed everything. Just generally, it’s changed everything. You know, there are a lot of workplaces that were in person, they moved to online. They’re probably not going to go back to in person. Or they’ll go back to in person three days a week, two days a week. So it’s definitely changed that. The fact of the matter is this is an ongoing pandemic that has killed over 230,000 people. And there’s no end in sight. And in fact, it’s getting worse right now. So, we’re thinking about that. Think about how many people have lost people, to this, in this country. Think about how many people have lost people, and they only got to see them through Zoom. The last time they got to see them was through FaceTime. And then, they weren’t even able to have an actual funeral. They had to have a Zoom funeral because you’re not allowed to get together. Depending on where you are.

(23:36): Those things impact our health. Seriously. Like grief. It’s something like, there aren’t even words to really describe what that grief feels like and how it impacts you. But it does, deeply.And I hope that workplaces are being amenable to understanding that this is really happening. I’m a college professor and I have students all the time, who’ve told me, oh, I lost my grandfather. I lost my mother. I lost my father. And the only thing I could do is be flexible for them and care about them as people. One big thing is that a lot of people never stopped going to work. There are people who never missed a single day of work, in the midst of all this. And how is that for them? Like they have to go to work, they have to wear a mask. They have to wear gloves. They’re by themselves. I don’t know how that’s impacting them. There are people who’ve lost their jobs, millions and millions of people who’ve lost their jobs. And that’s definitely something that impacts your mental health because you’re not able to provide. If you have a family you’re not necessarily able to provide for your family. You’re not able to provide for yourself. You’re not able to do the things you need to do. And especially, if your job is something that you kind of wrapped your worth in. And now it’s gone. Like that whoo, impacts us. You know, a big, big part, like I said, I’m a father, I have two kids. People have kids and schools are not open.

Tiffany (25:20): [inaudible].

Brandon (25:20): Speak on it. Speak on it.

Tiffany (25:22): Totally.

Dr. Jide (25:24): You know people have kids and schools are not open. And listen, I love my kids. Okay. I want to be very clear. I love my kids. Okay. I never imagined spending this much time with them in my entire life. And hopefully, once again, workplaces are amenable to the fact that we’re human beings who have real lives. And my kid, one of my kids has a Zoom class here. One of my kids has Zoom glass here. So hopefully, you understand that we’re not going to be as flexible. They need to be more flexible. Much, much more flexible because this is real life. Yeah. And at least in my field of academia, I feel like many people or many institutions are being more flexible, in a lot of ways for students and for faculty. So, we have a tenure clock, you get tenure after a certain amount of years, a lot of universities have said, they’re going to stop the clock. Because they know that our work is impacted at this time. So being aware of that. So it really depends on the workspace. But no matter what, this is all impacting us very, very deeply.

Brandon (26:37): Right. Oh, I agree a hundred percent.

Dr. Jide (26:41): Yeah.

Brandon (26:43): So another question we can ask is, Can you share or provide resources for college students and recent grads who are interested in centering their mental health and wellness now?

Dr. Jide (26:55): Absolutely. So two places that I will start is Whole Brother Mission. It’s an organization that provides some mental health care for black men in particular. So first there’s Whole Brother Mission, which provides access to some free therapy sessions for black men in particular. And you know, in general, men really need to go to therapy, but particularly black men. So that’s important. And then, Therapy For Black Girls, same thing, except for black women. So these are two places that I would absolutely start, always. Outside of that, I always want to be aware that not everybody has access to therapy. That is important, but there are things you can do for yourself that can make you feel better.

(27:45): So first, get some sleep. So like sleep is one of the linchpins of our lives. And I don’t think we treat it as importantly as we should. So make sure you get some sleep. Okay. Because that definitely impacts your mental health and physical health. So make sure you get some sleep. Two, do your best to avoid drugs and alcohol because once again, oftentimes people use these as coping mechanisms, but they don’t actually work as positive coping mechanisms. They’re not necessarily gonna make you feel better, later on. It might be in the moment they might, but long-term, you know, that drug use and alcohol use, it’s not going to be good for you.

(28:33): Three, if you can, try to get some physical activity or exercise in. It’s just things that help you. Like a lot of research has shown these are things that just help you feel better. Get in exercise, it’s able to reduce levels of depression, reduced levels of anxiety, and generally make you feel better. And same thing with diet. Make sure you’re trying to eat, eat as well as you can. Once again, I know all of these are not necessarily accessible to everybody, but just do your best.

Brandon (29:04): So we have a question, and it’s actually my question. So you brought up that you know, about therapy. We always talk about getting a therapist, getting a therapist, here a therapist. What of those individuals who can’t get a therapist? Who should you consult to help with your mental health?

Dr. Jide (29:21): That is a really good question.

Brandon (29:24): Because I know as a young lad, as such as myself, I consulted with very close confidants, very close friends. You know, my grandmother was like my therapist. And so, we talk about everything. And once she passed, it was hard to find that person I can really trust to have those deep conversations with, to really unpack those mental issues that I was having. So, should you find like a close friend, close confidant? Me personally, I don’t believe your therapist should also be your spouse. And the reason for that is, you don’t want to unpack all your issues onto your spouse. And then who’s your spouse unpack their issues on? You know, get me back on. You cannot just back and forth, deflecting the energy, and it’s not going, it’s not discipating anywhere. So, I personally feel that spouses should be off limits when it comes to therapy and mental health, because they going to need therapy based on everything that you can tell them. So my question is, who should you consult? Who should you trust with this information to help you out?

Dr. Jide (30:36): Yeah, I think once again, for a lot of people, they do use their religious communities. You know, your a pastor and that can be very helpful. So I don’t want to make it sound like that’s not necessarily a good thing. Use that if that’s available to you. Like if you need that. And, particularly if your faith is important to you as is the case for many black people in the country. Do that. Talk to a pastor or priest. You know, I think the point you made about having confidence is so important. So that’s just social support. Having support from your friends, your family, you know, people around you. Make sure you’re able to do that. Make sure you have somebody that you can talk to. That is easier said than done.

(31:24): Of course. And it takes a level of vulnerability, with another person to be able to do that. But, something is better than nothing. And one thing that’s important is lots of times, it is important to just have people in your life that you can talk to., Just somebody you can call on when you’re feeling stressed, when you need them. Somebody to talk you down the ledge. Like that just can’t be understated. You know. Obviously, you made the point of your partner shouldn’t be your therapist. The only person who should be your therapist is a therapist. Because they’ve been trained in that. Like, nobody else should be your doctor. Same thing. But you know, it’s just social support. Social support. And, for myself, I feel lucky that I have a strong social support, you know, community. I have my family, I have my friends, I have a wife, you know, I have everything that I could use, and I still have a therapist. Somebody I can talk to, to help me, you know, when I’m dealing with my own types of issues.

Brandon (32:37): So I have a question about therapist. So do therapist need a therapist?

Dr. Jide (32:43): So, therapists need to go to therapists, who see therapist. They can’t just go to any therapist. So there are therapists who specialize in treating therapists. Because like, I know all the tricks of the trade. Like I could kind of play with you in certain ways. So I want to be clear, I’m not a therapist, I’m a researcher.

Brandon (33:03): Right. Okay.

Dr. Jide (33:04): You know, if I’m a therapist talking to another therapist, I know all the tricks of the trade that they’re gonna use. Depending on if we’re using the same modality and blah, blah, blah. So there are therapists who specialize in treating therapists because they’re able to see, kind of pass all the BS. Because they specialize in it. Yeah. So many therapists do see therapists. Because, I mean, think about what they hear all day. You know, they hear so some pretty messy stuff.

Brandon (33:37): Some deep stuff.

Tiffany (33:42): Yes. I think [inaudible 00:33:42] talk about coaches need coaches. I mean, every whatever professional you’re talking about or experience, those people also still need support. Like they’re human beings, or having a lived experience. And particularly if you’re in human services, you definitely need a strong support network even when, you know, contextually and textbook wise coping mechanisms, you still [inaudible 00:34:07]. So that’s huge. Someone in the chat said, “Your pastor is great, but if they’re not trained and certified, [inaudible 00:34:15] can find a trained and certified therapist that is of your same faith”.

Dr. Jide (34:21): Yes. That’s very true. Once again, you know, everybody doesn’t have access to everything. But there are therapists who are Christian-based therapists. So if you’re a Christian and you want to see somebody who integrate faith into your treatment, that’s perfect. Because that fits into your life. And also, this is another thing. If you have insurance, depending on your insurance, you may also have access to therapy. So that’s something that you may want to check your insurance plan, your little booklet about, to see if you have it.

Tiffany (34:57): That’s important. Definitely critical. I think that’s something that, especially for those of us, or not us, I’m not in college, but those of us lot that; it’s been a long time since I’ve been in college. But for the [inaudible 00:35:11] college or, you know, have started maybe one or two years out, it’s really important to unpack and understand your benefits package, to know what is available to you, through your employer, or through the institution you are [inaudible 00:35:24]. Like, you may have resources on campus or through your EAP program, et cetera, et cetera. And then, to definitely lean into those because… One thing, sorry, this came into my mind. I always tell people, especially when they’re new to finding a therapist that you want to shop around. Like you do with other types of doctors, you have to find the right fit. Do you have that [inaudible 00:35:48]?

Dr. Jide (35:49): Absolutely. You know, so it’s so important to find. So therapy is for you to get better. If you’re in a space where you feel like, you know, I dunno if this person is working for me or if this is gonna make me feel better, find a new one. If you can. So, I live in Southern California. Like I’m in LA county, so you could throw a rock and there’s a therapist. I understand that may be different in different places, but now, even with the pandemic, tele-health is big, it’s huge. People meeting their therapist over Zoom. So you’re not really limited in that way, quite as much anymore. So I think that’s important.

Brandon (36:36): A question, a faithful listener [inaudible 00:36:39] says, “How do we break the stigma for youth, especially black and brown to go to therapy or seek counseling?”

Dr. Jide (36:49): That’s a great question. You know, I think it starts with understanding that once again, mental health is a part of your health. So if you have a severe cancer, you’re not healthy in the sense of healthy. The same thing, if you’re in the midst of a severe depressive episode, that’s not healthy. Even if you’re not dealing with a heart attack, or cancer, or something like that, you’re still not healthy. So you need to focus on it. I think just understanding that, mental health is not crazy. If it’s crazy to go to a therapist, it’s crazy to go to the doctor when you break your leg. It’s just the same thing. It’s crazy to do so. And you don’t want to do that. But I think it starts with, you know, teaching our kids about what they have access to, and the roles of these jobs. So I think a lot of people don’t even hear what a therapist is,. Like if you ask the average middle schooler, what’s a therapist? I don’t know if they would even know what that is. So making it something, that’s talked about integrating mental health into curriculum, starting at a young age so parents know. So kids know and parents know, this is a thing. It’s for them. It’s for their wellness and their well-being.

Brandon (38:14): Understandable. We have a question from Peyton, another longtime listener. “How can they prepare themselves mentally for the corporate world? Do any of you have any hard experiences at first transitioning?” And I can answer that question. I actually did not. My transition from the corporate world to, I mean from college to the corporate world, it was very easy for me. The only issue I really had, which is dealing with the people, because now they’re dealing with a whole new demographic. I came from a HBCU. So I was around black and brown people, my whole college experience. So, going into that, to transition into corporate world, I was already around like-minded people who was ready to work and really [inaudible 00:39:04] work. So that wasn’t an issue. The issue was just dealing with other types of people. And once I really understood how those people act, and carry themselves in the workforce, it was just blending in. Laugh at jokes and govern yourself accordingly so you won’t lose your first job. So my transition was very easy. How about yours?

Tiffany (39:26): I would say that my transition into my first job was not particularly challenging, but I had a pretty let’s say, rough and tumble transition once I became a mom. Because, prior to that, a lot of my identity had been tied into my professional accomplishments and my academic accomplishments. Which I know you talked about earlier, how people can be very wrapped up in their professional identity. And so for me, it was like, oh my gosh. I became a parent in the middle, it sort of after several years of being in the workforce. And, at the same time, I also had a really challenging management experience. And so that was a lot of change in a really compressed timeframe. One thing I will say that was very helpful to me is I think I already mentioned I’m [inaudible 00:40:18] therapy.

Tiffany (40:19): So I had a therapist at the time, and that was already part of my life. And I revisited it at that time. And I also had a really strong support network of other working moms that I could talk to about their experience and strategies that they were employing that were specific to that. But it was definitely, I would say that first year of motherhood and working for me, you know, you’re going through a lot of physical and mental changes that you don’t have a [inaudible 00:40:47] . Like people can tell you read books, you have been around children, but regardless of how you become a parent, certainly not saying this as a mom specific thing, but you’re shifting roles. And for me, that was a really challenging year, and I navigated a bit of postpartum as well.

(41:07): So, one thing I can say to current students and even recent grads is cultivating a support network that you know, and trust [inaudible 00:41:17] things are heavy or, because you really don’t know what’s around the corner. Like there’s no way to know, Hey, I’m going to be in a toxic work environment or, Hey, I’m going to have postpartum. Like, nope, there there’s no warning shot. There was no warning shot for a pandemic. But one thing I’ve heard before is I have a really tight friend network that I know I can lean into. Or I can say, Hey, y’all check on me in two weeks, I’m going offline for a little bit. Because they know me well enough to know when we need to jump in, we need to jump out. So I just think, you can’t overly prepare for everything, but you can put support structures in place for yourself. And consider that, like we’ve talked about, an investment in your health. Just like going to the gym or going to the grocery store and getting some vegetables. Maybe you don’t eat vegetables all the time, but you know that you need vegetables sometimes and it has to be part of your diet. I think that, you know, mental health and wellness and it evolves over time too. Because the things that I do now, are very different than when I was in my early twenties. The things I need now, are very different than when I was in my early twenties. And that’s okay too. And like knowing what that means and kind of evolving with it.

Dr. Jide (42:28): Great. Thanks for sharing.

Tiffany (42:31): Yeah.

Brandon (42:31): Oh yes.

Tiffany (42:36): Someone messaged in, «Your ultimate stressor is fear. Fear of admitting you need help make seeking help worse».

Dr. Jide (42:41): That’s very real.

Brandon (42:42): Yes. Its a spiral effect. You just keep going.

Dr. Jide (42:45): Yep. Thanks for sharing that. That’s very real. That’s the first step. You know what I’m saying? Like realizing, you know what, maybe I do need help. Maybe I do need, maybe I do need to do this. That’s the first step. And it can be a long, hard road, but if you start, if you can like admit that to yourself, boy. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tiffany (43:07): That’s tough.

Dr. Jide (43:09): Yeah. Yeah. I can just say for myself, you know, therapy has just opened my life. Like it just opened my life in ways that I didn’t think were possible. Dealing with different problems, growing up. It was nice to have somebody to talk to and still have somebody to talk to, and it’s just made my life better. Yeah. Yeah.

Brandon (43:33): And Lewis [inaudible 00:43:33] says, «The 12 step per se, the first step is the hardest». Which is absolutely true. So that’s with anything, is the fear of the unknown, the fear of doing it [inaudible 00:43:43] for it, and change. Once you’re really over those things? What is your issue? You can do whatever you want.

Dr. Jide (43:50): Absolutely. I will say. So the last question was about transitioning to the workforce. I’ll say that, particularly if you’re a member of a marginalized community; So I’ve never been in corporate America. Okay. I would say that I’ve been in academia, that’s where I’ve been. So take what I say with that knowledge. You know, just know that things that you experienced in the workplace, you know, different people experience, you know, different problems, but don’t question yourself. Know that like experiences of racism, discrimination, sexism, there’s documented evidence that these things happen to marginalized communities at work. And a big part of what racism does, is you go, wait, is it me? Am I tripping? Am I crazy? Just know that it’s not you. And always keep in mind, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I’m not crazy. I’m qualified. I’m here. I work hard. It’s the other people.

Tiffany (44:55): That’s huge.

Brandon (44:56): Yes. Thank you. We greatly appreciate the conversations. We can talk all day about mental health. We thank you Doctor for coming here and really sharing your knowledge. And we invite you back. If you want to come back to The Access Point and do a part two of the mental health topic, please come back.

Dr. Jide (45:16): I’ll be back next week.

Brandon (45:19): Next week? No, we’ll get you on the schedule. We can have a second part. If you think of anything else, please email us and let us know. Tiffany, where can people find you at and contact you?

Tiffany (45:34): People can find me on Twitter @TiffanyIWaddell. I’m also on the Instagram over at Career Maven Consulting. So happy to connect there and talk it up and talk about transitioning to the workforce, for anybody who is on.

Brandon (45:50): Okay. Doctor, where can they find you at?

Dr. Jide (45:55): I’m on Twitter also. You can find me on Twitter @JideBam. I’ll type it in so you can find it. Yeah, and I have a lot of fun on Twitter,.

Brandon (46:06): Oh, I do too. I do talk about everything from Beyonce to politics.

Dr. Jide (46:11): Anything.

Brandon (46:12): Anything. Yes. And you can find me on Twitter as well @[inaudible 00:46:13]. And let me pull it up. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. And you can follow us on Living Corporate and LivingCorp on the [inaudible 00:46:21] pod. I’ll put that in the chat as well for everyone to see.

Dr. Jide (46:25): Great.

Tiffany (46:25): Awesome. Is there any one last word you want to tell the folks about protecting their mental health before we sign off?

Dr. Jide (46:32): I just want to reiterate that, you know, attending to your mental health and attending to these things can really, really improve your life. In ways that you’ll be like, why didn’t I do… You know how you put something off for a really long time, and then you finally do it and it takes five minutes. And you’re like, I could’ve done this weeks ago. And I spent all this time, you know, having it in the back of my mind, stressed out about it. I think the same thing with mental health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you know, feeling whatever, go on and do your best to get help. Because you’ll realize it can actually make you better and just improve your whole life.

Tiffany (47:08): Fact’s. All right. Well, thank you. We have so appreciated you sharing your time with us tonight.

Dr. Jide (47:15): Thank you all for having me.

Tiffany (47:15): Yes. Everyone else, tuning in, or watching the recording later, Access Point. Yeah. We thank you all for tuning in. Good night.

Brandon (47:23): See you guys next week.

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