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After overcoming mental health struggles, this woman wants to break the stigma in all communities

Posted at 11:17 PM, Sep 22, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmonder Lakeisha Champion is working to break the stigma surrounding mental health in all neighborhoods.

Champion hit a point in her life where she said she couldn't eat, barely slept, always felt weak and some days, she felt like she didn't even want to comb her hair. She felt it day in and day out and was worried it wouldn't go away.

"I feel like I've been putting a bandaid over it and dealing with it," Champion said.

However, the temporary fix wasn't working. She was doing worse, bad enough for her kids to speak up and say something who said they saw her hurting a lot.

Champion said it was then when she knew she needed to do something to get better to be a better parent for them.

Champion finally sought out help, something she said took overcoming a serious stigma.

"It's not something we like to talk about, especially in the Brown-skinned communities. They said, you don't have that, go to sleep, take a nap, go sit at a park, go get you a drink," Champion said.

Champion sought out help at Serenity House created by Serenity Counseling Services of Virginia. For the first time, she learned she had PTSD, anxiety and depression. For the first time, she had strategies and support to deal with it.

“It’s okay. It’s okay to be yourself. It’s okay to get help. It’s okay to reach out to someone who can support you,” Champion said.

Monica Lucas, the co-owner of the counseling services group, said she sees many stories like that of Champion. She said there is an enormous need for mental health services and it's one of the reasons why she's devoting her work to help end the stigma.

“We need to command and be intentional about how we take care of ourselves. When we are unable to do that we need to seek out support and help to address trauma. Anything that seems abnormal is abnormal,” Champion said.

Champion hopes that others will continue this conversation and she hopes they see how the support of services like these have helped her.

“That I can accomplish anything, that at the end of the road I’m going to be cheering because I made it to the end,” Champion said.

Lucas said the biggest advice she gives people is to take 15 minutes of self-care time a day no matter how busy they are.

You can reach out to get help here.

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