Kevin R Taking off the armor that I have to wear every day.
My name is Kevin R. and I’m a program manager. I run two programs for SEAMAR Community Health Clinic. We work to address the social determinants of health for our clients. Any of the reasons why they might not have access to healthcare or social services, we try to remove the barriers.
“Mental health was never really talked about.”
I was raised in the church. We had the Bible and God and prayer and fasting and different things to get through life and I don’t believe that mental health was really ever talked about. It taught me to not really disclose or talk about it because it sounds like weakness.
“You can go years without really dealing…”
…or even knowing things are happening with you or what exactly it is. Then your issues manifest. And you don’t know that because no one talks about it. Having gone to counseling and treatment, they highlight the issues and give you healthy coping mechanisms along with support.
“You can’t keep it all inside”
Then you realize that it’s pretty normal to have whatever type of feeling. And there’s actually a way to deal with it. Learning to combine that with your spiritual beliefs only makes it better. I think that journey is what got me home, made me comfortable — because you can’t keep it packed in your bag. You have to have a healthy place to actually deal with it.“Men don’t talk about our feelings as a
general rule.”Men usually just do angry and happy. And there’s all these others, but we didn’t learn that. In treatment there is this checklist: Are you hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired? Stressed? Any of those things that are not taken care of put you at risk. So take care of yourself, take care of your needs.
To be honest, I didn’t really think about being a Black man in America at the level that I have this past year. We always make adjustments for everybody to feel comfortable around us, you know? So when we started to talk about it because of George Floyd, and we started to unpack it and have a real conversation, it was kind of overwhelming to me. I picture myself coming to sit in my living room every day, taking off armor that I have to wear every day. I never felt the weight of the armor that we have to carry every day until that day.
“There are people that want to do the right thing.”
My friends of different races are just outraged by what has happened. They were emotional. They’re like, “I can’t believe I never saw this or thought this.” I try to look at that and say I’m encouraged because there are people that are going to do the right thing. It helps me to believe that we’re not alone in that. There are people that want to do the right thing.