Clifton Bright is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Mentor, Life Coach and Consultant and now Author located in Harford County Maryland. He has worked with Men from all walks of life and discovered that God has a specific purpose for every man. His passion is to help men strengthen their knowledge of their identity so they can function in their purpose.
Clifton has been married for over 16 years and has three wonderful children. He is also a member of Spirit of Faith Christian Center in Baltimore Maryland serves as an Usher. Along with working for a Nonprofit agency, Clifton has recently founded Bright House Counseling and Coaching, his private practice providing mental health and life coaching services.
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." ... And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." ~Galatians 2:20
RUM: Why is mental health so important to you?
CBJ: Mental Health is important to me because it provides the foundation to living life at an optimal level. Mental Health has a significant effect on Physical Health in many ways. This speaks to the importance of Good Mental Health Hygiene. It's a part of Holistic Health and has been ignored for too long. How you Think drives how you Feel and leads to how we Show up in life and guides our decision making. We go to the Doctor when we have a physical concern. Shouldn’t it be the same way when we have a concern about how we are thinking or how a Traumatic event or life change has affected us? Mental Health and Mental Illness are two different things and it’s important to understand this. Mental Health is the state of wellbeing in which we are aware of what we can do, we can cope with the stresses that life brings and feel safe. We also feel a sense of community and connection with people. Mental Illness is a condition that affects our Mood, thinking and behavior. So many factors can affect our Mental Health.
RUM: Why do you think it is difficult for men to admit they need help? ... and for them to get the help they need?
CBJ: Growing up in a home and communities where Mental Health was not always prioritized, I know how much of an impact it has on the Whole Man. I remember being Depressed my entire Senior Year in High School. I would come to school after seven hours of sleep and pass out during 1st Period. I remember losing interest in most things. I remember wanting to feel valuable. I remember struggling with my Self Concept. I have seen family members struggle with Mental Illness. I have had two occasions in my life where I contemplated Suicide. No one knew what to do or inquired how to help me. If it had not been for friends, I don’t know if I would have made it through that year. What if parents, educators and even family and friends were aware of the signs of Mental Health illness and disorders? How many people would no longer suffer in silence? People often get labeled as one thing but are struggling with the effects of Trauma, Neglect, Abandonment and/or Abuse, and serious mental health illnesses such as Anxiety, Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, the list goes on and on. My desire is that we continue to work towards removing Stigmas.
It is difficult for Men to admit that they need help because it has often been attached to weakness for us. If you grew up in an environment where you did not receive help and support from caregivers, then it is hard to receive help as an Adult in many cases. In some cases, we have not had models who have shown us it is okay to ask for help or may have been ostracized for even seeking help. Also, access to resources can be a barrier for Men as well. How many Men really know what Therapy looks like? Our misconceptions can keep us from seeking out the help we need. What if your definition of Masculinity is rooted in being tough, in being strong? Asking for help can make you feel like less of a Man. What if you asked for help before and instead of receiving help, you were taken advantage of? You may struggle asking for help. Also, I have worked with Men who have never been around a Man who didn’t mistreat them. There was a certain level of distrust there. We have to address that it is Ok to not be Okay and that a Strong Man is one who can ask for help when he needs it.
RUM: Tell us how you are educating men on mental health wellness and encouraging them to get help when they need it?
CBJ: I am educating Men on mental Health Wellness through Videos and Posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and also through mentoring men in the community. I am currently working on content for an upcoming Podcast (Kingdom Manhood Talk) that will assist Men in removing the stigma attached to Mental Health and address areas that have challenged our concepts of what being a Man really means., I am honored to be a part of the group of Male Counselors and Therapists that are out here making a difference and helping remove barriers that have kept us from seeking Therapy. I am also conscious of how I present physically and how that impacts the men I come across. I often hear, “I never thought I would see someone doing this that looks like me”. I also have written a Journal titled: "21 Days to Developing your Identity in Christ" that addresses helping not just Christian Men of who they are but can be a resource to any Man who is growing in his knowledge of who he is. The book is available on Amazon.com. I want to also continue to be part of the discussion and efforts to remove barriers between Faith and Mental Health. Therapy involves working with our Soul. Our Soul consists of our minds, desires, preferences, feelings, and our decision making. It’s about addressing who we are as A Whole Man.
RUM: In closing, If there was a male reader who felt like harming themselves or giving up, what would you say to them? To a Man who is reading this and may be considering giving up or even engaging in self harm, I would let them know that what they are feeling or struggling with is valid. We often tell men to "Suck it up, Man up, Be Strong, Don't be Soft or a Punk, people got it worse than you" and while this may sound like it is coming from a well-intended place, it often comes off to the person as not being heard and having one's feelings invalidated. I would encourage that Man to identify one person that would be negatively affected by them not being present anymore and to reach out to 1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) if they are having suicidal thoughts. It may be hard right now, but things do have the ability to change. With support, you can make it. I would tell Him that it is "Okay to not be Okay" and that you are valued even if it seems the opposite right now. Don't get out of the ring yet continue the fight. God created you for Great things and YOU are worth the effort that change takes, even if it seems dark right now. Joy comes in the Morning and Morning is coming.