Personality: James Harris Jr. | Richmond Free Press

James Harris Jr. knows the trials and tribulations of the therapeutic experience.

Growing up in a foster home after death and illness tore his family apart, he participated in counseling services which he said did little to address his concerns and had him left disconnected both as a youngster and later as a veteran.

Today, Harris, with a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, is working to provide a better alternative and to bring more attention to the stigma surrounding the mental health of boys, men and women. disadvantaged people through its Men to Heal initiative.

“We are committed to showcasing, addressing and improving the lives of people with mental illness, addiction and their families,” said Mr. Harris.

Founded by Mr. Harris in 2018, Men to Heal seeks to set itself apart from the more one-on-one sessions typically expected of board. He prioritizes group therapy as a way to facilitate collaboration and vulnerability in the healing process.

In the years since its inception, Men to Heal has helped over 350 men and boys and formed partnerships with groups and nonprofits throughout the Richmond area.

Mr. Harris continues to expand his therapy efforts, from books to social media and the board games he designed, “Cheesy Dates,” which aims to improve communication in friendships and relationships.

Her efforts also include The Healing Hub, a wellness center launched in 2019 that focuses on bringing outpatient therapy, yoga, education, and other resources to the Richmond community. The Hub not only showcases the work of Mr. Harris, but also seminars from others who can help those in mental health need.

“I wanted to normalize vulnerability, instead of equating it with weakness,” says Harris. “Having an abundance of resources allows me to give back to my community. “

On Saturday, December 11, Men to Heal is hosting “Boys and Wings” for boys and men ages 10 to 100, Harris said. The event, which will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Healing Hub, 916 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd., will offer 10 sessions on topics and issues that many may struggle with, from anger management to grief and co-parenting.

The event is just the latest in Mr. Harris’s advisory work, which has not slowed down during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says his therapeutic work continued virtually, not only in Richmond, but in sessions in several countries overseas. He says his job is starting to return to the in-person sessions.

Considering how his consulting experience began decades earlier, Mr. Harris is more than aware and happy to see how far his work has taken him.

“I’m able to make people feel comfortable saying ‘Hey, this is a place where I can express these feelings without being demonized and berated,’” says Harris. “It was a great trip.”

Meet a mental health advocate in Richmond and this week’s personality James Harris Jr .:

1st volunteer position: Founder, Men to Heal and The Healing Hub.

Occupation: Entrepreneur and therapist.

Date and place of birth: March 26 in Richmond.

Where I live now: Chesterfield County.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology and master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling.

Family: Fiancée, Brandi Johnson, and her daughters, Brianna and Peyton.

What Men to Heal does: Helps men focus on their general well-being, mental, emotional and physical health. I run sessions on various topics involving boys / men and mental health. I also own The Healing Hub (@ the_healing_hub-rva) which offers outpatient therapy, massage, yoga, mindfulness, seminars (financial literacy, first home buying, voter education, rights restoration , LGBTQ + to name a few). We also have monthly groups, liaison groups, for veterans, families, men’s support groups, clothing drives, toiletries drives and a food program every third Saturday.

Why asking for help is especially hard for black men: Many are brought up not to. Historically, what happens in a house stays in a house is how many are high. Some are related to religion. They can entrust their problems to God or pray to him that they will go away. A privileged few tried to seek help, but were likely excluded or demonized for being too sensitive or less than a “man.” Some don’t have anyone they think they can relate to or who can help them without judgment or shame.

How Men to Heal normalizes therapy: Allowing people to ignore Hollywood therapy, step into the room, sit on the sofa, and reveal your darkest secrets. Instead, it is a collaborative and cohesive process of building relationships and a unique experience for that individual. Each person is different, each person has their own level of resilience. Reality therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy make people feel free and validated.

How Men to Heal Handles Anger and Aggression: Men are educated on why they potentially display anger and how to deal with their anger, among other things. Education around these topics is engaging and necessary for this information to be passed on to the next person. Many learn to deal with conflict or adopt calm manners.

Men to be cured and COVID-19: For many, the pandemic has been a troubling time. Some took the time to rest, others took the time to catch up on things they couldn’t do otherwise. For this movement, everything went online during the pandemic and has just picked up with in-person sessions and community engagement activities. I had the pleasure of speaking in five different countries, leading virtual workshops and trainings throughout the pandemic.

Men to Heal and grief / depression: Educating the masses about bereavement has been one of the main elements. Helping people identify and treat depression has also been a vital part of the movement. Many men still think that depression is only for women. Once they are educated about the symptoms and how to treat them, they become more interested in their growth. Depression in men can seem different than in women – anger and irritability in addition to lack of interest and pleasure, change in appetite, changes in sleep, and thoughts of suicide.

Mental health care for black men in Richmond is: It is a continuously growing space. Many ask for help and take referrals. Many also come to my posts in the community to identify areas they need to address.

The power of rest: It is very important to get as much rest as possible. The ability to do it when you can and not be forced to do it because of a medical condition is good. It’s OK to reload and recover.

The power of exercise: We must not only exercise the physical but also the mind. Mind and body are connected and feed off of each other. Exercise helps us fight certain health problems, avoid problems, and feel good about ourselves and ourselves. Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins in the brain, which improve mood.

The power of meditation: The wild thing is that a lot of people don’t know how to breathe. The power to anchor and center yourself is a great tool to have. Meditation and mindfulness induce heightened awareness and focused attention. This practice can help relieve stress as well as manage anxiety, reduce inflammation, and improve memory and attention to boot.

Encouragement for someone having a difficult day: Take a piece of paper and assert yourself. Write down all the positive and unique things about yourself. Focus on the positive, not the negative.

A perfect day is: Link with my family.

How I calm my mind: Meditation and deep breathing.

My daily personal care routine: Meditation in the morning, exercise (lift and run), then kickboxing.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Play Monopoly.

Quote that inspires me: Something I said when I was 16 sitting on the edge of the bed in the group home: “If they can feed you, they can starve you. You have to be able to take care of yourself.

My friends describe me as: Someone who is ready to be different and someone who is always helping others.

At the top of my “to-do” list: Continue to annoy my daughters. Give them as much time as possible.

Diet and mental health: Green leafy foods and proteins. Metaphorical Food: You want to be careful about everything you digest or eat. It can be media, social media, news, community stuff and all.

Person who influenced me the most: I cannot say that I have had a positive influence. I saw the mistakes of others and learned what not to do.

Book that marked me the most: Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist”.

Next goal: To sell one thousand more shirts, one thousand more copies of “Man, Just Express Yourself!” And thousands of “Cheesy Date” board games.

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