Steel Allies Share About Their Mental Health Journeys During World Mental Health Month: Erica L. Givner, MSW, LCSW, EMDR-C

Oct 29, 2021

October is World Mental Health Month. With our Organization-in-Residence, Steel Smiling, we’re highlighting some “Steel Allies” who champion mental health and wellness in their communities.

Owner of Vision Towards Peace Counseling Services and A Peace of Mind Inc., Erica L. Givner is a pioneer in the social work space who has served Black/African American clients for the past two decades. Since the beginning of her professional career, she has been inspired by the plight of Black America and uses her professionalism as a tool to heal her community. With an entire team of talented and diverse team of licensed clinicians, A Vision Towards Peace’s mission is to empower. They provide a non-judgmental, supportive, and safe space for you to work through the challenges you are facing. Check out the Q&A below to learn more about Erica’s unique mental health perspective!

What does Black mental health mean to you and for your life?

“Black Mental Health looks likes …Trauma, Healing, Healthy, Resilience, Man, Women, Child, Pain, Boundaries, Truth, Honesty, Brave, Vulnerable, NO, YES, generational curse breaker, EMDR, grace, oppression, stigma and the list can go on.”

What does Black mental health mean in your community (or, your practice?)?

“Black Mental Health in the community is the same response as above, with the fact we don’t have enough resources nor do we have enough capacity when someone is ready to seek care. People are finding ways to be innovative to address the black mental health shortage. However, we still live in a day that black clinicians are represented at 4% nationally and less who are trauma trained with EMDR.”

What is different and important about approaching specifically Black Mental Health in communities and even in your practice?

“The approach needs to be from a place of love, care, spiritual, and rooted in honesty with the goal towards working me out of a job.”

For me, healing looks like…

“Healing looks multifaceted…it looks guarded, paranoid…It looks rough, it looks like aha moment, it looks freeing, it looks connected, it looks disconnected, it looks like tears, it looks like joy, it looks like surrendering, it looks inward to heal and not outward to blame, it looks like growth and stagnation, it looks like whatever the person needs to change the behavior they once did that lead to painful outcomes.”

What would you say to someone just beginning their healing journey?

“Just start and journal from a place you feel comfortable, not from society standards. If you need to use emojis, record your words, write whatever doesn’t make sense, just keep going. It will flush out and come together.”

There is a strong connection between individual and community mental health. Our deep partnership with Steel Smiling aims to illuminate and strengthen those links in order to empower communities and their residents.

About Steel Smiling:

Steel Smiling bridges the gap between Black people and mental health support through education, advocacy and awareness. Their 10 year vision is to connect with every Black person in Allegheny County to a positive mental health experience that improves their quality of life by 2030.

Top Header Image Photo Credit: Prototyping Larimer Stories by artist John Peña, photo by OPA