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Dr. Tamara Warren Chinyani is a mental health advocate, educator, scholar, and former public health employee, with over 15 years of experience working with underserved populations. As a sought after public speaker and trainer, Dr. Warren Chinyani established Cultural Choice Training and Consulting Solutions in 2011 which specializes in creating workshops and training strategies for a variety of topics including cultural competence, mental health education and outreach, and crisis communications.

Dr. Warren- Chinyani focuses on creating strategies to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of mental illness in African and African American populations. She’s partnered with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and African American churches to promote Mental Health First Aid, an international program designed to increase knowledge of signs, symptoms, and risk factors of mental illnesses and addictions.

Through her efforts, Warren Chinyani has been featured in Religion News Services, Afro.Com, American Urban Radio Network, Mental Health Weekly, The Washington Post and CBS News (Baltimore and Washington, D.C.) for her work in mental health education and outreach. Dr. Warren Chinyani’ s latest work The Closets Are Full, offers insightful tips and strategies women can use to make healthy life choices and is scheduled for release in December 2015.

Dr. Warren Chinyani answers your mental health questions below:

What advice do you have for caregivers dealing with family members with mental health disorders for self-care. I have a son who has oppositional defiance disorder. He is now a teen and has been dealing with his disorder since he was two. Some days it’s exhausting.

There are several support groups throughout the United States that provide care to individuals who support loved ones with a mental illness. One organization to consider is NAMI-National Alliance on Mental Illness which offers training and support sessions for caretakers, etc. The website for NAMI is HERE. 

I would like to know how to reach you even if there is no response to my question. I have a family member with a mental health issue. 

Listeners can go to my website to contact me. However, individuals seeking professional counseling, etc. can contact their health insurer to find a list of participating providers, including licensed psychologists etc. who can assist the individual who may have a mental health issue.

I also encourage people to participate in the Mental Health First Aid training that is available throughout the United States. The course will teach you how to address someone who may be experiencing a crisis.

Doctor, my estranged wife has an anger problem. So how do I get her some help?

There are licensed counselors in most cities that can offer assistance on managing relationships with others. Options include individualized counseling and marital counseling. (Editor’s note: has a full list of providers that you can filter by your issue, insurer and location.)

Good morning, what do you do when that person knows they need mental health help but will not get help?

There may be many reasons why a person may choose not to seek treatment for a mental health problem. Keep in mind you can play a role in assisting that individual by first educating yourself on how to communicate about mental health. This includes seeking support from organizations like NAMI-National Alliance on Mental Illness or by completing the Mental Health First Aid Training sessions that will help you navigate different approaches to supporting your loved one.

I am living with a person with major depression. Please give me some advice on how to deal with the coldness and rejection received from your loved one. 

I am not a licensed psychologist, however, there are many counselors and support groups that can provide assistance to you and your loved one during this difficult time. Consider seeking counseling for yourself, or finding a support group that can help you develop healthy coping skills and allow you to be supportive to that individual while he or she manages his or her depression. Remember, there is hope for recovery!

I have a lot of those symptoms the doctor mentioned. What do I need to do?

First of all, I honor your courage as you seek means to get help. There are several options available to you which include scheduling an appointment with a licensed psychologist who can perform an assessment to determine the best course of treatment for you.

The conversation can start with your primary care provider, and he or she can recommend a participating psychologist who can assist you.

Also, keep in mind there are often support groups in major cities who also can work with you as you move into recovery. The key piece to keep in mind is to stay hopeful and know there are individuals out there who are willing to help.

What do you when someone calls full of sadness and loneliness, and in addition, they start talking about updating their will? 

Persistent sadness and loss of hope can be a warning sign of suicidal thoughts. Please seek out help immediately. As a first step, you can let that person know you are concerned about them and would like to help. Offer to take him or her to meet with a licensed professional who can determine what the next steps should be.

By all means take this person’s words and actions seriously!

Also, there is a National Suicide Hotline that can be called anytime to speak with an individual who may be contemplating suicide. The number is 1-800-273-8255. Also, organizations such as NAMI-National Alliance on Mental Illness offer great information.

Do you know if there are health professionals are working with law enforcement to create a mental health unit within the police departments?

Many law enforcement agencies have approved Mental Health First Aid training for officers etc. Please visit the Mental Health First Aid site to learn more and find courses that are available for the law enforcement agencies.

Dr. Tamara: How can a group retain your services for a conference or training seminar?

Individuals who would like me to visit their organization can reach me via my website. Persons may e-mail me directly to schedule training and speaking engagements.

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