A look back at the YPCC and a presenter’s advice to help improve mental, emotional health

The10th annual BL2END Young Professionals of Color Conference (YPCC) was held July 16 in a virtual format. The theme of the event was Celebrating Our Resilience: 10 Years of Perseverance. Featuring keynote speaker Lt. Governor Gilchrist as well as several local speakers facilitating breakout sessions, the Conference highlighted current topics of relevance such as social justice in America and what it is like for underrepresented communities within Grand Rapids. Another such topic was the importance of prioritizing mental and emotional health, particularly for people of color.

“As a young professional and therapist of color, my goal is to help bridge the gap between clients and therapists,” says presenter Janee’ Beville, M.A., LPC, NCC, owner of Beville Counseling LLC. Providing a variety of mental health services including individual counseling, talk therapy and group facilitation, Beville Counseling seeks to provide the individuals it serves with a “sense of hope.” Having both attended the YPCC and served as a speaker previously, Beville was “honored” to be invited to participate again this year.

“I chose to participate in the YPCC conference because I believe it is important to educate everyone about mental and emotional health. The stigma is slowly breaking down for communities of color and it's important that we receive the right information [from] providers who look like us,” she says.

Understanding that people of color have additional challenges to overcome, Beville says, “We need mental health support as we live and work in environments where there are racial biases, prejudices and few who look like us.”

In addition to the need created by an individuals’ surroundings, Beville highlights the positive impacts acknowledging the past and dealing with trauma can have. “Mental and emotional health is both affected [by] and affects every aspect of our lives,” she says. “It is important to recognize generational trauma, racial trauma, personal trauma and how it affects one [currently].

One impact of improved health is “reducing and stopping the continuation of [these] unhealed and unmanaged traumas. Learning how to identify, experience and cope with emotions will help one have better relationships, confidence and freedom to live authentically,” she says.

During her presentation, Beville encouraged attendees to “change ‘selfish’ to a positive.” For her, this means shifting perspectives.

“Changing ‘selfish’ to a positive means changing the way we define it socially. It can be seen as an act of self-love,” she says. “We can change that perception to a positive one if we choose to see it as one who cares for themself so they can be healthier and not feel guilty for doing so.”

Beville is not the only one who feels this is an important consideration for underrepresented individuals. Governor Whitmer has proclaimed July 2021 as People of Color Mental Health Awareness Month.

Looking ahead, Beville hopes for the “continuation of people of color [being] resilient, [despite] negative experiences and history.” Ultimately, she would like to see all individuals living at their best and positively engaging within the community. 

“I hope to see healthier individuals who help create healthier communities,” she says. This would mean “genuine joy for everyone” where individuals are “thriving rather than surviving.”

For individuals looking for assistance or support, community resources can be found through the Mental Health Clinicians of Color and Network180.

Photos courtesy ACT Photomedia

About Leandra Nisbet: Leandra Nisbet, Owner of Stingray Advisory Group LLC and Co-Owner of Brightwork Marine LLC, has over 15 years of experience in leadership, sales & marketing and graphic design. She helps businesses grow and assists with strategic planning, marketing concept development/implementation, risk management and financial organization. She is actively involved in the community, sitting on several Boards and committees, and has been recognized as one of the 40 Under 40 Business Leaders in Grand Rapids.

Contact Leandra Nisbet by email at leandra.rapidgrowth@gmail.com
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