MEET T-KEA

Why I founded the Mental Health Empowerment Agency?

As a survivor of a suicide attempt, the challenges I faced extended far beyond the mental and emotional realms, manifesting in tangible ways that made basic daily living activities monumental hurdles. Simple tasks like personal hygiene, cooking, and self-care became increasingly difficult. In the workplace, the fear of sharing my diagnosis loomed large. My productivity plummeted, simple tasks took an excruciatingly long time to complete, I was consistently late, and I faced repercussions for my low performance. The pervasive mental health stigma in the workplace made me acutely aware that my struggles wouldn’t be taken as seriously as those with physical illnesses like cancer; instead, I feared being perceived as incompetent or lazy, resulting in a lack of support. Eventually, this led me to apply for disability, as the challenges became insurmountable, and I could no longer continue working.

However, my journey took a turn when I decided to re-enter the workforce. During job interviews, I candidly disclosed my mental illness as a disability, emphasizing the need for support. I proactively inquired about companies’ policies regarding mental health disabilities. It wasn’t until I found my first supportive supervisor that the tide began to change. This supervisor not only understood the challenges I faced but also provided unwavering support. When I needed time away for intensive mental health treatment, she approached the situation with compassion and understanding. Importantly, she allowed flexibility in my workday to accommodate attendance in a psychiatric program and consistently encouraged me without making me feel inadequate. This positive experience marked a turning point, illustrating the transformative impact of genuine support and understanding in the workplace, and this is why I am so passionate about organizational wellness.

Prior to working with mental health, I spent over a decade in communications, public relations, and event production, and after attempting to end my life, I made a pivot in my career and sought ways to merge my new passion for workplace wellness and background in communications. As the founder of the Mental Health Empowerment Agency, I am on a mission to dismantle workplace stigma.

I am also the executive director and co-founder of Black People Die By Suicide Too (BPDBST), a non-profit dedicated to normalizing the conversation about suicide in the Black community by providing peer support, suicide prevention education, and resources that instill hope in Black people suffering from mental health conditions.

I am equipped with a diverse range of certifications in crucial areas such as suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention, as well as expertise in addiction recovery, trauma-informed care, and motivational approaches for peer recovery specialist. In order to uphold my peer certification, I actively engage in ongoing education, regularly acquiring and updating my knowledge through continuing education units.

I am the author of “Saved & Depressed: A Suicide Survivor’s Journey of Mental Health, Healing, & Faith,” aiming to educate my community on mental health and encourage them to seek treatment.

I am proud graduate of Howard University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University. In the fall of 2024, I hope to my PhD in mental health to further research suicide prevention in the Black community.

Mental Health Credentials

  • Certified Peer Recovery Specialist, Maryland Addiction and Behavioral Health Professionals Certification Board
  • Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor (youth and adult), National Council on Mental Wellbeing
  • Wellness Recovery Action Plan Facilitator (WRAP), The Copeland Center
  • Whole Health Action Management (WHAM) Instructor, National Council on Mental Wellbeing

Accomplishments

  • Black Mental Health Alliance Phoenix Arising Award: 2023 Peer Specialist of the Year
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Maryland’s 2018 Program Leader of the Year Award
  • Billboard NYC Times Square Feature 2019 “Lift the Mask” Suicide Prevention Campaign
  • Appointed in 2018 by Governor Larry Hogan to serve on Maryland’s Behavioral Health Advisory Board