Meet Dr. Nekeshia Hammond

RUM: Outside of being “America’s Favorite Psychologist”, who is Dr. Nekeshia Hammond? What defines you?

NH: Wow, that’s a really deep question. What defines me would be trying to help people in as many ways as possible, whether it's in my practice, Hammond Psychology & Associates, with mental health care, working with non-profit organizations’ Board of Directors, consulting with the media, or speaking to different groups. I love having the opportunity to make a difference and to reach people, especially with a message about reducing the stigma of mental health treatment. Most people know that I juggle a lot! Being a wife, mother of a young son, private practice owner, “frequent flyer” for multiple projects, it can be overwhelming at times, but I have found what is most important is giving it my all. Most people see the current “Dr. Hammond”, but do not always know the trials and tribulations to get to this point. Not every moment has been easy, but I am grateful for all of the life lessons. Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

RUM: I have found that many mental health professionals have a story, something that led them to the mental health field, what led you to the mental health profession and specifically working with children?

NH: I wanted to help children ever since I was a child myself at 7 years old. I started getting even more interested in

the field of psychology, specifically, back in high school after taking some psychology classes. When I went to college, it was really eye opening to see the immense mental health needs of people. I had a powerful and extraordinarily successful mentor, Dr. Carolyn Tucker at the University of Florida, who had me in awe of her ability to make a difference in her work. Seeing the potential impact on children in my undergraduate and graduate school experiences solidified by desire to work with youth and make a difference in their lives. Now that I am a mother of an 8-year-old son, I appreciate working with children that much more, because I personally see how important positive mental health is for youth.

RUM: Any regrets? On your journey of becoming a child psychologist.

NH: No, not really. Like anybody, I wish I knew the things I know now. It’s been almost 12 years that I have owned my practice and I wish I knew then what I know today. In the beginning of my career, I thought I would primarily see patients in the office for the next 30 to 40 years of my life, but the reality is I learned there is so much more to mental health interventions “outside” of the office. I ended up falling in love with the media, hosting a television show for a few seasons, and currently hosting a digital show, Mental Health Moment with Dr. Hammond. I am humbled and honored to consult with various media outlets, speak all over the country, and advocate for the field of mental health. I know now that outside of the private practice doors, there are so many other people who need information and resources.

RUM: Being recognized as such big statues in the mental health field, we are overlooked as being humans, so I want to ask what is your greatest fear?

NH: I know I'm only one person, but at the same time, it's hard to have the information I have, information that could be life changing for people, and not being able to share it with as many people as I would like to. I would say this is a fear and it just feels wrong on some level. Knowing the information that could prevent children from getting suspended, repeating a grade, having depression or anxiety, experiencing family distress..I want to shout this information from the rooftops! Not being able to reach as many people with this information that could greatly improve their quality of life, I would say that is my personal fear, which is why I spend a lot of time working with the media and social media, to increase how many people can have access to the information they need to know about mental health. Everyone deserves to have positive mental health.

RUM: So, are there any challenges in that perspective of just trying? What do you find are your challenges in being a child psychologist?

NH: There are a lot of challenges, I'll start with the system itself, because there’s such a stigma. When advocating for mental health education, there is a lot of misinformation to address. Then you have other obstacles, whether it's the education system, the health care system, the racism, the discrimination, the barriers for health care; there's this long list of things to overcome