Interview with Professional Mental Health Advocate, Ashley Bianca Jones

What is mental health and why is it such a taboo in some cultures? According to Google. "Mental health is the state of someone who is functioning a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment." I believe mental health is a taboo in some cultures because some families do not discuss their issues amongst one another, fear of embarrassment, fear of judgement, and the thought of having to see a therapist alone can be a reason. I think everyone may have went through a season of dealing with some type of mental issue. Let it be depression, anxiety, or even stress. It is how we deal with it that determines our true mental health. 

In observance of Suicide Prevention Month, I had the pleasure of interviewing one of South Florida's Mental Health Advocates, Ashley Bianca Jones. This woman is making some serious moves within the regions of Broward and Miami by getting individuals together in one room to speak on mental health within their communities. 

 EJ: Tell me about yourself?

ABJ: My name is Ashley Bianca Jones. I’m a mental health advocate and event specialist. I am also the founder of The Come-Union which is a space/gathering that gives others an opportunity to freely speak their truth while normalizing the conversation on Mental Health. I actively work with different organizations such as NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), and AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention). I am also certified to teach Mental health first aid courses. 

EJ: What made you become a mental health advocate?

ABJ: My own personal struggles with mental health influenced me to become an advocate. I realized that there were other people facing similar struggles as I was. Not only that, I also realized that there was a lack of understanding on what mental health was and how to better assist those facing challenges.

EJ: Why do you think people are afraid to talk about mental illness?

ABJ: Easy. Because of the stigma associated with mental illness. They’re afraid of being judged for speaking out and asking for help.

EJ: Do you think social media plays a huge role in mental illness and why?

ABJ: These are really great questions. Absolutely. Social media comparison is very real. Often times, we beat ourselves up about not being where we’d like to be in life. So imagine logging onto Instagram, for example, and you see someone posting the highlights of their life…because that’s what people mostly post. Automatically, pressure is going to be applied because you feel that now, you need to be where that person is. Or have what that person has. You start to feel less than when really that isn’t the case. We don’t know what that person had to go through to get what they have. We don’t know if it’s a fa├žade. People rarely post the negatives. When you take selfies, are you going to post the one you least like? Absolutely not. Always remember, not everyone is who they “post to be.” 

EJ: What are some tips, strategies, or resources that you can provide for someone who may need it?

ABJ: First things first, practice self-care. Do positive things that make you feel good about yourself. Get involved with your local NAMI/AFSP chapter. Joining those organizations has truly opened doors for me and brought on great connections. Be gentle with yourself and understand that your feelings are totally valid. Be around people who bring the best out of you. Practice positive self-talk. Go to therapy if you feel you need to. There is nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t make you crazy. It makes you brave and strong for getting the help you need! 

If you are battling with mental illness, please do not be ashamed. There is plenty of help out there. I hope this interview was able to provide you with some insight on mental illness and how to deal with it head on. Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts. Thank you again to Ashley Bianca Jones for this interview :)

Later Love Bugs,
Elizabeth Jacas