My mental health calling
My calling is to improve mental health for everyone.
I live by Henry David Thoreau’s quote: “the best thing a man can do for his culture when he is rich is endeavor to carry out those schemes he entertained when he was poor.”
I grew up in East Texas and learned from the poverty that surrounded me. I dreamt of a time when kids like me wouldn’t have to worry about their lights or water being turned off (you ain’t a true tested Texan until you’ve lived a Texan summer with no air conditioning, eating bologna out of coolers.) A world where poor kids could dance, sing, and be their authentic selves without fear of judgment or “isms.”
As I progressed through college, med school, residency, and now into a career, my “schemes” are slowly coming to fruition. Everyone in society benefits from just, equitable, and personalized access to quality mental healthcare. Period. “Every dream worth having is a dream worth fighting for.” Professor Charles Xavier may be fictional, but he (and the X-men comic books he stars in) have been instrumental in my growth and beliefs.
From 2016–2021, I’ve focused my contributions on increasing the workforce, influencing politics, and improving racial equity:
Increase the workforce:
- Teaching 1st year students at the TCU & UNTHSC med school
- Apprenticing 2nd year students from TCU & UNTHSC med school
- Sponsoring medical student associations (SNMA, Psych SIG)
- Creating dynamic integrated curriculum to compel student interest in the field of psychiatry
- Recruiting new doctors to the Mindful practice
- Retaining current doctors to remain in the Mindful practice
- Helping therapists find and support other therapists (www.gide.me)
- Supporting therapy practices and giving business coaching to private practice psychiatrists and therapists (www.simplypsych.com)
- Directly confronting the increasing number of physician suicides (www.MedicineForward.org)
- Launching a local mental health awareness initiative: www.FeelBetterFortWorth.com
- Contributing to FWMD Live (www.facebook.com/fwmdschool/live_videos/)
- Creating infrastructure for mental health businesses: www.feelbetter.city
Influence city, region, and state politics:
- Served as President for the Historic Southside Neighborhood Association
- Servingon the Near Southside Inc’s Development Committee
- Helping remove mental health questions from physician licensure (www.MedicineForward.org)
- Donating, Donating, Donating to politicians who share our communal best interests
- Leaning in as Member of the Entrepreneur’s Organization (www.eonetwork.org/fortworth) and Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce (www.fortworthchamber.com)
- Protecting physician autonomy and promoting patient safety (www.PracticingPhysician.org)
Improve racial justice, address racial trauma, and improve equity
- Launched www.helloMHint.com to provide affordable access to quality mental health conversations
- Coordinated with TCU to host workshops on Healing Racial Trauma
- Co-Hosting Living Corporate’s webseries “The Break Room” (www.living-corporate.com/breakroom/)
- Member and Supporter of Black Men in White Coats (www.blackmeninwhitecoats.org/)
- Mentoring Black male undergrads, a medical student, and child psychiatry fellow
- Ad hoc business coaching for Black entrepreneurs
I’ve won awards and gained recognition since becoming a mental health entrepreneur in 2014. And I’m just getting started.
Going into my 41st year on this planet, I know how I want to spend my time:
- 1 Day of direct patient care
- 1 Day of teaching (med students, residents, high school, junior high, and elementary)
- 1 Day of reading
- 1 Day of building a network to expand and support Black excellence
- 1 Day of rest
- 1 Day to organize big ideas on behalf of humanity
- 1 Day of spontaneous “consult and liaison” activities focused on reintegrating mental health into every facet our modern lifestyle
As a Black man, 2020 took quite a toll. The protests and movements last year in the wake of George Floyd’s murder showed me that I have a role and responsibility in leading difficult and compassionate conversations to heal this country. As a psychiatrist, the pandemic showed me that mental health is still overlooked and underfunded. As a small business owner, the economic uncertainties prove that we need to build a better mental health infrastructure so that everyone can get the care they need. The insurrection at the Capital in January and the abject failure of absentee governing by the Texas ERCOT council literally put my life in jeopardy because I’m not in the political, financial, or social position to protect myself, my family, my friends, or anyone who looks like me.
We must do better. I want better.
Growing up poor gave me a unique appreciation for the simple things and I know how to stretch a dollar. Momma always said “once you know better, you have to do better.” Will do, Momma.
One step at a time.