I met Brandy Wells while attending a workshop last year centered around sisterhood. During the event, she indicated that she was a licensed social worker and explained how that training and experience had impacted that way in which she parents. Mental health is a piece of pregnancy and parenthood that should be put on the forefront of needs to be addressed throughout the journey. I asked Brandy to share her insight on the importance of positive and strong mental health and how it can be beneficial to the whole family.
Brandy is a mom of two little girls Kennedy, 9 and Karter 2 and married to a soon to be attorney. Currently, her work is centered in the school system but she has previous experience and expertise working with children in the child welfare system.
"I am an advocate of raising strong children, building resiliency all while balancing familyhood."
WHAT DREW YOU TO SOCIAL WORK?
Of course, in highschool, I had dreams of being a neurosurgeon. Not really understanding what that entailed. I began to take sociology classes which shaped my interest in the field of psychology and women studies. I had a child before graduating with my, at that time, soon to be husband and it changed my entire world. I wanted to know everything about this little human which inspired me to want to help all little humans. I graduated with a degree in sociology and women studies and took a job at Head Start, which provides a free preschool education for low-income children. I haven’t stopped working with children since.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN A BIT HOW YOU SERVE FAMILIES THROUGHOUT THEIR PREGNANCY AND POSTPARTUM?
When I talk to mothers and/or families who are preparing for childbirth I focus on maternal mental health, building attachment, and prenatal and early childhood education. It was always astonishing to me a number of women who I would meet who had concepts of child rearing from how they were raised, that were unhealthy or nonexistent. So I tend to start where they are and try to mix in their beliefs with solid education. There is a fine balance in respecting how women want to raise children and what you believe as a therapist. All in all, I just want them to take parts of what I can provide and add it to their already existent “tool kits”.
With that being said, I model ways to attach to your baby both prenatal and post. How to respond to cries, how to deal with maternal mental health concerns. Songs, dances, and rituals to begin the process of bonding. Safe sleep habits, the importance of breastfeeding, letting go of the guilt of not being perfect, and most importantly how to prevent non-effective parenting habits.
PRACTICAL PARENTING IS A MODEL YOU USE AS AN EFFECTIVE PARENTING HABIT, WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE?
Practical parenting is using what you have to provide a positive parent/ child experience. There are people who believe you need tons of money, fancy toys, and lavish play dates to raise “perfect” children. But what is most beneficial for children is the simple interactions that we sometimes take for granted, like driving our children to school or cooking. Don’t look for something to provide you with the answers, go within yourself to provide your children with what they need. When it comes to my children, it’s all about me being present. If I’m commenting as my daughter draws a picture, or having a pretend princess party with my toddler. It’s about me responding, teaching through example, and just physically being there.
WHY IS CHILDHOOD MENTAL HEALTH SO IMPORTANT?
Early childhood mental health is important because it is the foundation into which people grow into healthy adults. After much training, education and research I discovered how much of an impact our early mental health has on the outcomes of our mental wellness as adults. If I could somehow shape or support better outcomes to protect the future of our society, it is not adults I should focus on, it is the little ones who like clay, are waiting to be molded into gems, healthy, resilient gems.
HOW DO YOU EASE THE CONCERNS FOR FAMILIES WHO ARE HESITANT ABOUT USING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES?
Mental health is such a hush, hush topic. But I believe that it is becoming something that people are beginning to embrace. We all encompass mental health; it’s how we respond to stimuli. It’s genetic, it’s unavoidable. Whether you are diagnosed with a mental health impairment or not, we can all benefit from having someone to talk to or help us deal with this crazy world, Whether that’s a therapist, friend, or parent. I tell people all the time if you go through life not ever feeling crazy, then you aren’t living.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK SUPPORT UNDERREPRESENTED FAMILIES AND THEIR COMMUNITIES?
A majority of the women and families I work with are underprivileged in some way, in regards to support, income, education, race, etc. If anything I try to give them all the luxuries that their women counterparts are fortunate to already know, such as more knowledge of child rearing, resources, and family. I want the families I work with to come out feeling empowered and to know that no matter the circumstances it is not those who have the luxuries who succeed it is those who have the knowledge who win.
WHAT ACTION WOULD YOU LIKE READERS TO TAKE AFTER READING THIS?
Be more conscious about how you are raising your children. And what you don’t know, don’t just give up, go find the answer, take that answer, make it into your own and go practice it. Remember there is no perfect parent. Your effort is noticed. And the only person who can love and mold your children into who they dream of being is you.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEAVE THE READERS WITH?
I love that through my work I I give kids hope. I allow them to have a voice when others often time tell them when it’s time to talk. I allow them to believe and to use their imaginations. I tell them I love each and every one of them and that they can always change their circumstances. I allow them to get sad, angry, happy without expectations. And what’s more prideful is when what I believe becomes what their caregiver believes, and we began to shape our future directly by working with future generations.
For any additional questions or concerns please my site www.mymotherhoodmagic.com.
“Reach one, teach one.”