Individuals need to listen to each other. Those who suffer from mental illnesses often find themselves alone. A listening ear or shoulder to lean on goes a long way. As a society, we need to normalize mental health. Our minds need to be maintained the same way we care for our cars and bodies. Regular checkups will keep minor issues from becoming major problems. As for the government, there is already legislation that requires equal treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders (Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008). However, we can benefit from the better implementation of these laws and better access to the available resources.
As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to normalize the focus on mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Herdyne Mercier. She is The Wife Mentor™ and creator of the Wifefidence™ Movement. She is a clinical social worker and co-founder of Mercier Wellness and Consulting. Her passion is working with wives and wives-to-be to help turn their love story into a reality. She strongly believes in providing a safe place for women to express their emotions with no barriers or judgment. Herdyne and her husband, Dr. Jameson Mercier, LCSW, are the hosts of a weekly podcast called The Couples Counsel. On this show, they share stories and give real advice for real relationships. Herdyne lives in Fort Lauderdale with her husband and four children.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
My path to becoming a social worker stems from a love of helping others. I love seeing people win in life. I love hearing stories of people turning life’s lemons into lemonade. I enjoy seeing individuals, couples, and families restore their relationships. I strongly believe every relationship can win at communicating, spending quality time and validating each other in a positive way when taught the right skills.
This passion for helping others was nurtured by a number of things including memories of my parents helping others and volunteering at my church. It was no surprise that I decided to pursue a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social work.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
One of the reasons for the stigma about mental illness is because as a society we continue to label people as psycho, lame, nuts and crazy when they have mental health issues. No one wants to be referred to as crazy. Consequently, people avoid seeing a therapist.
Another reason for the stigma is the general lack of knowledge about mental illness. Until we start having more open and honest conversations around our experiences with mental illness, the stigma will continue.
Can you tell our readers about how you are helping to de-stigmatize the focus on mental wellness?
I started by educating my own community. Haitian culture is very spiritual, loving and family-oriented. However, they have misconceptions about mental illness. I’ve had the opportunity to educate my community through workshops, speaking engagement and my own podcast, The Couples Counsel. I have found that more education about mental heal often leads to people being more willing to schedule an appointment and start the healing journey.
Was there a story behind why you decided to launch this initiative?
As a clinician, my niche is working with wives. I have such a heart for wives and wives-to-be that I created The Wifefidence ™ Movement. There was a time in my marriage that I lost myself to the idea that a “good wife” is one that neglected herself in order for hubby and kids to be happy. Boy, was I wrong! When I realized what was happening, I was mad and frustrated, I felt maybe a divorce was a solution in me finding myself again. I, soon, realized that divorce was not the answer but rather self-examination, prayer, counseling, and self-love. I learned that life’s struggles gave me the opportunity to reflect and evaluate my situation. During that reflection process, I learned to reconnect with myself. Now, I teach and remind wives and wives-to-be that they can win at life too.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
Individuals need to listen to each other. Those who suffer from mental illnesses often find themselves alone. A listening ear or shoulder to lean on goes a long way.
As a society, we need to normalize mental health. Our minds need to be maintained the same way we care for our cars and bodies. Regular checkups will keep minor issues from becoming major problems.
As for the government, there is already legislation that requires equal treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders (Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 and Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008). However, we can benefit from the better implementation of these laws and better access to the available resources.
What are the 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1. I practice what I preach and see a therapist. No matter who you are, life decisions can be hard. Having someone there to listen and help me map out my thoughts is amazing.
2. I have a community of support in different areas of my life. I am part of a mastermind group called Mastery and Momentum led by Patrice Washington. In this group, we focus on 6 pillars of life: work, people, money, space, faith, and fitness.
3. I use daily affirmations. Some examples include I am walking in my destiny and I am walking by faith, not by sight. These affirmations remind me of my strengths.
4. I lean on my faith. Quiet time with my Creator in the morning helps me to feel centered before my day starts. In everything I do, I ask God to order my steps.
5. Family time and date night with my husband, Dr. Jameson Mercier, helps me recharge, especially after a stressful week. We take family trips, go for bike rides, and lounge on the beach.
6. Whenever there’s a free moment during the day, I’m either listening to a podcast or an audiobook. They leave my cup full.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
Redefining Wealth by Patrice Washington is a podcast that teaches you that the joys of life are not in chasing money but finding your purpose. I highly recommend it.
Supervision Support by Deseray Hamilton is a new favorite. This podcast provides an inside scoop into the world of supervision for clinicians.
Journey to Launch Podcast by Jamila Souffrant
Courageous Living Podcast by Courage Molina
Believe Bigger: Discover the Path of Your Life Purpose by Marshawn Evans Daniels Book.
Thank you so much for these insights! This was so inspiring!