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Meet Reginald Howard of Black Men Heal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Reginald Howard.

Reginald, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story started with my own mental health journey. I did a lot of self-help mental wellness research but realized eventually I was going to have to see a professional. Fortunately at the same time, Black Men Heal was founded which offers free therapy to men of color.

I was a little apprehensive at first because of the stigma around mental illness, especially amongst men. I was making all types of excuses like the application being too long and how I already knew everything I needed to know about therapy. Thankfully, I went through the process and been an advocate for mental health ever since. Now I currently serve as an Advocacy Outreach Specialist for Black Men Heal.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
One of my first struggles was admitting that I had a mental illness in the first place. You hear this all the time on TV and movies but admitting is really the first step. My next struggle was my credibility. Once I decided to become an advocate, I had mental health professionals critiquing me. Their disapproval almost made me stop all the work I completed already but I kept going. Thankfully, I was able to join forces with Black Men Heal, which provides the backing and support to make real change. Our current struggle is getting funding to service the men. Although we provide free therapy, it still costs us on our end to make sure the men get the best service.

Black Men Heal – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Black Men Heal provides eight free one-on-one sessions with a provider of color to talk about current or past thoughts, feelings and experiences around issues such as masculinity, work/life balance, & relationship/family struggles. The goal of therapy is to help achieve enhanced well-being through positive changes in behaviors, beliefs and emotions. We provide safe, nonjudgmental, and supportive spaces for men of color to share their similar struggles, frustrations, fears, questions, and uncertainties around any area of life with their peers. We want men to be able to experience the power of surrounding yourself with other men who are committed to healing. Groups are led by a specially trained therapist facilitator to help you feel more supported and less alone.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
I personally define success as an impact. How do you make people feel? Was the world better because you were here? Who will miss you when you’re gone? What’s your legacy? These are the things that define my success. I feel successful because I can help others seek treatment and take care of their mental health. Professionally, we feel successful because we get to put healed men back into our communities. The goal is to leave the world better than you found it. We feel successful to know that Black Men Heal will exist long after we’re gone.

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