Browse Tag

mental health


Venus Williams Supports Mental Health with the Launch of her $2 Million Free Therapy Initiative

As the struggle against mental health challenges continues, Venus Williams has joined the league of star athletes to support mental health with the announcement of her $2 million worth of free mental health therapy initiative. This initiative will be in partnership with BetterHelp and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

Announcing this partnership in a recent statement, the tennis star said, “The challenge of taking care of our mental health through the ups and downs of life is something that all of us, no matter our background, can relate to”.

She went ahead to share her excitement in the partnership, “Now, more than ever, we need to create an accepting and open environment to seek professional mental health therapy, which is why I am so excited to partner with BetterHelp and the WTA to provide access to free therapy and help raise awareness”

This partnership is aimed at providing free one-month therapy via the BetterHelp counseling website. According to the statement, the first $1 million is already accessible while the rest of the fund will be spread, $500 on each ace hit, throughout the remainder of the 2021 WTA Tour season.

Alon Matas, the BetterHelp President, while commenting on the relevance of the partnership said, “We are thrilled to partner with Venus and the WTA to bring greater awareness and access to therapy. Especially today, it is important that we take care of our mental well-being, and therapy provides the space and time to do just that”

As issues concerning mental health continue to gain momentum around the country, Venus William’s colleague, Naomi Osaka recently came out to disclose her personal battles with mental health. She cited anxiety and depression as her reasons for withdrawal from her May and June games. This, according to the tennis star, was to enable her to have some ‘personal time’ before rejoining the games at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in July.

In the wake of the increased conversation on mental health, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) is making efforts to cater to the mental health of its players. One of such efforts is the availability of licensed mental health professionals together with other support provisions which players can access within the duration of this US Open.

Sadly, neither of the Williams sisters is participating in this last key Tennis tournament of 2021 due to different injuries. “It is super, super, super disappointing” lamented in a statement issued via a social media video concerning her absence from the tournament. Venus Williams continued, “I’ve been having some issues with my leg all this summer. Just couldn’t work through it… I just was unable to figure out the equation, and there have been so many times when I was able to figure it out. This time, I couldn’t just make any miracles work”.

However, her contribution towards mental health will go a long way to boost the mental health and morale of players and non-players in the US and beyond.

Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram Twitter


This Black Owned Mental Health Platform Just Raised $5 Million

Hurdle, a Black owned mental health platform,  announced yesterday that it has successfully closed a $5 million series seed financing.

Established in 2018, Hurdle is a digital mental health platform revolutionizing mental health care by providing mental health services with a focus on culturally sensitive self-care support for people of color.

black owned mental health
Kevin Dedner, Founder and CEO of Hurdle | Photo Credit: Paul Newson

According to the American Psychiatric Association, African Americans often receive poorer quality of care and lack access to culturally competent care. Only one-in-three African Americans who need mental health care receive it. Hurdle is working to break down the barriers to mental healthcare for people of color to create an equitable behavioral health service with culturally responsive care and resources.

“With depression spiking in Black and minority communities, this year is an inflection point in mental healthcare. The events of 2020 present a unique opportunity for Hurdle to create solutions that work for anyone, but most importantly, for the most underserved populations,” says Kevin Dedner, Founder and CEO of Hurdle. “With this financing, Hurdle will significantly expand its reach and be able to help corporate and payer customers cement their Diversity & Inclusion commitments by providing broader access to culturally-responsive mental health services.”

Hurdle’s suite of services includes:

  • Self-care digital apps (daily motivations, mediations, assessments);
  • Wellness workshops (managing stress, cultivating resilience, coping with grief);
  • Teletherapy (individual, couples and group therapy).

The funding will enable Hurdle to expand its leadership team and solidify its position as the gold standard for culturally sensitive teletherapy.


Tony O. Lawson

Subscribe and Follow SHOPPE BLACK on Facebook, Instagram &Twitter

 Get your SHOPPE BLACK Tees and Hoodies!


Kanye West is Bipolar: An Examination of How an Artist Processes a Mental Health Condition

Ye is a very strange little album. Half acknowledgment of the broken, manic depressive, narcissism that is Kanye West’s psyche and half dedication to the love he seems to feel for his wife, Kim Kardashian West, and their children, particularly their daughters.

In an untidy package, this collection of songs is wrapped up in the strangling bow of bipolarism, a mental disorder West was diagnosed with at age 39.

Here’s the thing. Somebody, who is not Kanye West, yet who is bipolar, or living within the mental confines of some other un/diagnosed manic-depressive illness, will listen to Ye.

That person will fully identify with the admission of abusive behavior to -self and to others, the type of behavior that has deadly consequences. Without speculating too much about the pain that led to the recent tragic suicides of Kate Space and Anthony Bourdain, there is a real mental health component at play here that is pushing people to the max.

We urge people to be transparent about their pain in hopes that it will prevent a suicide or murder. And as tragic or perplexing as it is, someone will understand how relatable Kanye’s level of transparency is and, perhaps, think, “I’m not the only one who feels this way.”

That person will see that it’s a struggle to remain in this destructive way of existing, but what conclusions they draw after that epiphany are the real question. Will they actually seek out psychological therapy? Will they actually call a suicide prevention hotline? We can only surmise. And that is the reason why you might find value in this eighth studio album by Kanye West.

There’s a certain logic that a person struggling on the edge of the unthinkable may actually hear how Kanye is processing his own violent and hurtful emotions (the kind that can likely lead to violent and hurtful actions against loved ones or -self).

kanye west

Then, after vibing with how deeply dark his drama and dilemmas are, may themselves decide to seek out help or support in their own struggle. The likelihood of that happening is entirely debatable. However, this is the only value I find in the album Ye. Because, Kanye himself, is too far gone for my personal sensibilities, and a whole lot of others, for that matter.

He’s gone so far off the deep end that I’m not even sure who his core audience is anymore. He’s pissed off Black folks, many of whom feel he represents the worst parts of misogynoir and arrogant ignorance. He’s disappointed hip hop fans across the board.

His comments about slavery being a choice for the enslaved Blacks, and the decisions he made to exploit the now infamous photo of Whitney Houston’s drug-strewn bathroom for Pusha T’s most recent album cover are cross-the-line crazy to most who once supported him.

And despite the red hat, I can’t imagine that any MAGA supporters are really checking for Yeezy in actuality. Like, really, he’s become the headline news troll that raises your blood pressure before you even know what he’s done next, and would rather ignore altogether.

But I decided to give Ye a listen, regardless of what I feel personally about Kanye. And what I heard out the gate completely alarmed me for two reasons. For the person who truly internalizes the lyrics of an artist, and identifies with the message of a particular song, you wonder how certain lyrics influence behaviors of listeners.

Take, for instance, the opening lyrics of the album: “Today, I seriously thought about killing you. I contemplated premeditated murder. And I’ve thought about killing myself, and I love myself way more than I love you, so… Today, I thought about killing you… You’d only care enough to kill somebody you love.”

This is a far cry from “Jesus walk with me…” Kanye is very clear and deliberate with his word choice in this song. You understand what his intentions are in writing it, and you understand his intentions for recording it for public consumption.

Is he talking about Dr. Jan Adams, the doctor who was responsible for his mother’s death in 2007, or is he talking about his wife or some other family member with whom familial matters are complicated? Whoever it is, even in the vein of self-expression and free speech, those are some pretty heavy and revealing lyrics. The type that cause red flags if a loved one were to say them to you outright, for any reason.

The type of lyrics that indicate that you’d be a fool to not separate yourself from someone who felt this way about you. Period. Surprisingly enough, ‘Ye reveals later in the album that Kim Kardashian has made a conscious choice to remain loyal and stick with him despite this toxic, bipolar illness coupled with the embarrassments that have taken over his persona. Even though he willfully acknowledges that the gravest consequences of collateral damage are on the table, as far as he is concerned, she won’t leave him.

And that’s the alarming part. The poet Maya Angelou is noted for saying, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Over these last few years, Kanye West continues to show us, for better or for worse, who he is, and we’re finally starting to believe it. And he’s taking that “for worse” clause to the max.

Yet, he’s managed to put out a twenty-three minute album with themes of questionable accountability, enabling toxic relationships, embracing fatherhood and wanting to protect daughters post toxic-masculinity-disorder, thoughts of homicide/suicide, and medicating it all away.

After listening, if I wasn’t convinced before now, I truly believe that Kanye should be recognized as an individual struggling with a clinical mental disorder that I hope is being treated regularly by a team of mental health professionals. Otherwise, he becomes an actual threat to the people in his life, and to himself.

What happens after we all come to grips with that, I don’t know. But my prayer is that the person listening to Ye on the wrong day, when the wrong set of circumstances trigger the same type of emotions that are on this album, gets help instead of pulling the trigger.



– Contributed by Mai Perkins

Mai Perkins, aka FlyMai, is Cali girl in a Bed Stuy world with global bon vivant flair and the passport stamps to prove it. She currently works in Edtech, and is the author of several blogs including and and is a columnist for the music publication

With an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in International Affairs from The New School Milano, she reps her beloved alma mater Howard University every chance she gets. As a poet and a creative non-fiction writer, she looks forward to soon publishing her first manuscript, The Walking Nerve-Ending.

Insta: @flymai16

Twitter: @flymai on Twitter


6 Ways To Beat The Holiday Blues

Tis the season to be jolly! Or Nah? While many enjoy the glitz and glamour of the holiday season, the holiday season can be a painful reminder of lifes pangs: poor social relationships, poor financial health, the loss of loved ones and the inevitability of another year.

Some, have to wrestle with if what they are experiencing is brought on by the holidays or something more serious.

African Americans, who are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than are adult whites, it is important to take a moment to pause to consider what lies beyond the lights and the parties.

holidayWhile the thought of reading yet another list of self-care tips may seem discouraging, consider the alternative. Do you trudge through another holiday season with empty smiles or reclaim this season for your personal growth and betterment? I vote reclamation!

Here are a few helpful action steps you can take to not only surviving but thriving this holiday season:

Get Moving

The mind and body are amazing, they have all these conversations about what works and what doesnt work without us always being conscious.

Physical activity is one of the best ways to elevate your mood and reduce anxiety. For example, you may want to look into considering tennis lessons. Physical activity releases endorphins elevating your mood, while also helping to calm the brains fight or flight response system. Get a jump on all those new year new body goals by getting active now.


If possible, consider a brisk 45 minute walk each day. Better yet, dance that pain away, sweat it out with a YouTube workout or grab a friend and take a class.

Play, while relegated to the 12 and under population, is actually for everybody. Play has the potential to bring about immense pleasure while also strengthening poise and understanding.

No matter your physical capabilities, we can all engage in play of some sort.


Give A Little Get a Little

While it may seem counterintuitive to consider giving to someone else when you are feeling low, it may be just what you need.


Seeding into others can produce feelings of satisfaction and purpose. While volunteering at your local food bank or shelter is a great way to give back, there are likely people in your life and immediate vicinity who would benefit from some extra support.

Giving with your money is great, but giving of your time can produce the long-term fulfillment we are all seeking. Consider checking in on someone, offering a warm meal or helping someone around the house.


This is a great time to cultivate or re-cultivate your relationships with the elders in your life who are often forgotten about.

Be Grateful

Everything we dont have, arent doing and should have done can be heavy load to bare. But what about your flowers? What about the things in your life that are going well, the relationships that have lasted, and the skills you do possess?

Being intentional about gratitude offer us a moment to recognize the small but mighty beauty that surrounds us daily. Consider starting a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, reflect on something you are grateful for.

Even if it’s just the basic recognition that there is breath in your body and you are alive, lean into that which you are grateful for.

Double Down On You

Date yourself, treat yourself and love on you in only the ways you can. Instead of externalizing your feelings, go inward. Shower yourself with praise until you actually start to believe it.

Escort yourself to that concert, holiday gathering or vacation getaway. Buy your own flowers and go all out on a meal for one. Even if you have someone to enjoy these things with, there is nothing like remembering your first relationship, to self.

While it may be easier to highlight all the ways you have failed yourself, it takes more work to love on you. The results of this type of hard work has the potential to change your life well beyond the holidays.

Get Creative

Creativity is a divine genius we sometimes forget to tap into, especially if you dont consider yourself an artist. The truth is, we are all creative beings, and there are millions of ways to engage our creative sides without trying to be the next Basquiat. There is coloring, painting, collaging, cooking, writing, and drawing.

But there is also repurposing, organizing for space optimization, decorating, and indulging the possibility of ideas that you ruled out. Like any muscle, the creative muscle will atrophy if we dont exercise it and grows with regular attention.

Strengthening your creative muscle can open you up to seeing things in a new way, recognizing possibility where there was once a wall. Like with exercise, creating something brings about feelings of fulfillment which often last longer than feelings of happiness.

Go Inward With Therapy

If your holiday blues has extended into your spring and summer it may be time to reexamine the root of your blues. If depression symptoms like sadness; lethargy; loss of appetite; anxiety; lack of interest in pleasurable activities; and mood swings persist for multiple days for more than two weeks, there may be case for a deeper dive.


It should be noted, clinical depression can make many of the above considerations almost impossible. If this is your reality, consider therapy.

Therapy offers clients a safe space to make that deep dive, find meaning, and learn techniques for long term self care. Maybe this year instead of going it alone, you seek out a qualified therapist to help you put down your burden.

Whatever you choose to do, choose you by being intentional.

None of the advice provided in this article is a substitute for a relationship with a trained clinician. If you or someone you know me be experiencing depression, please seek out help.

Shesheena A. Bray is Boston native who has taken up roots in the City of Brotherly Love. She earned her M.S.Ed in mental health counseling from The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in 2016. In 2017, Shesheena started Going Inward Wellness, LLC where she offers individual counseling, psychotherapy and wellness support.

For those in the Philadelphia area, consider Going Inward Wellness as your first stop in therapy.