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Your Story Matters Series : Feat Roxie A. Williams

We met the amazing Roxie on social media, she is a mental health advocate and a licensed master social worker that uses her voice to inspire, teach health, and spread awareness. Once we found out she was from the Bronx we just had to hear her story and what she would like to impart to the tribe. We know you will love her and follow her journey. We asked what made you decide to participate and she responded "Anything that I can do to raise awareness or spread the message about mental health resources, normalizing therapy for black people, and mental health in general, I'm there to motivate others to share what’s been kept in." Born in the Bronx to a mother whose also a Bronx native and a father who was born and raised in Jamaica then migrated to New York as a teenager and stayed ever since. Roxie’s a social work supervisor for her agency’s Bronx programs but she also dabbles in the arts. Fashion designing, creative writing, and dancing. It wasn’t until Roxie was 13 years old when she needed therapy herself that led her to become a social worker herself. She says, “I was 13, a freshman in high school, and I was very depressed, I was cutting myself, and I had suicidal thoughts. My school social worker referred me to an outside therapist, and they both helped me and my mother during a very dark time in my life. I was in therapy for almost two years and in the end, I remember feeling this weight lifted from me. During one of my final sessions, I asked my therapist, "How do I do what you do?" I remember how hopeless I was when I went into therapy, and how purposeful I felt after it. I wanted to help people feel the way I felt, I wanted to help people get their hope back because it is possible, I had experienced it.” We also asked Roxie about who has impacted her. She continues, “My mother. She is a strong black woman and a single mother, I remember her telling my therapist, "We don't do this, my daughter's not crazy." But she remained open to the process, she took me to therapy faithfully and we had several sessions together, if I didn't have a mother who was open to taking me to therapy and having sessions with me, I wouldn't be who or where I am today. I don't even know if I would be alive. My other influences would be my school social workers and the therapists that I've seen during different stages of my life starting in high school. One final influence would be the assistant pastor at my church, Dr. Zoleka Adams who happens to be a social worker as well and who helped me get my first job in social services. There's an old saying, that it takes a village to raise a child and I can definitely attest to that.” Indeed. It does take a village. Everybody’s presence and impact is felt by the child. Our elders have a huge responsibility in nurturing, guiding, and taking care of that child. Roxie’s participation and involvement in this project is absolutely perfect. What she is doing perfectly represents the overall purpose of mental health. Her work is much needed and very much respected and appreciated. She feels and knows her place in making sure that we do anything to continue to raise awareness and spread the message about mental health resources, normalizing therapy for black people, and mental health in general. Her current dreams and goals at the moment are to complete her clinical hours and pass the licensed master social worker exam that will enable her to eventually open up her own private practice and provide a therapy within her community. It’s only right that we asked Roxie about her own experience and/or knowledge of mental health. She says, “My experience as a Black woman with mental health has been multifaceted. I have experienced the stigma and the denial that mental health exists within our community. I have also experienced mental health from a client's perspective, being someone who has gone and still goes to therapy, and now I get to experience it from the provider's perspective. I get to be the person who refers people to treatment, and I also administer brief counseling to the clients that I work with.” Lastly, she adds, “Mental health is normal, addressing your mental health is as crucial as addressing your medical and even dental problems. When you have chest pain, you know to go to the doctor to seek medical attention well, when you are feeling down, depressed, and emotionally wounded, talk to a therapist, a social worker, or mental health counselor. We are located in most doctor's offices, hospitals, schools, shelters, rehabs, and now more than ever, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic you can talk to a therapist from the comfort of your own home.”  

 

FEATURE FRI by 90TheArchitect 

- Jalen Hemphill Blogger / R&B Artist Instagram @hiphopsoul_jalen 

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