“This is a very special time in our field…I think that we’re about to be on the horizon of something transformative for our society. I just see it, and I feel it.” – Camesha Jones

Pardon me while I drop my first ever LIVE episode into this space! And, wouldn’t you know it, my guest and I cover all the Conversations With a Wounded Healer favorites: community, connection, spiritual anchors, resiliency, the white-washing of mental wellness spaces, and the importance of therapists engaging in their own work (natch). 

What a joy to sit beside Camesha Jones, LCSW, at Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness, her gorgeous social enterprise located in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood. Founded in 2017, Sista Afya is dedicated to providing low- to no-cost mental wellness services that center the experiences of Black women. So much to discuss, but first…

This is where I introduce you to Sista Afya’s fall fundraising campaign and invite folks to join me in giving what they can. The center aims to raise $35,000 so that it can continue to provide essential mental wellness support to Black women in Chicago.

OK, so now that you’ve supported the Sista Afya campaign, let’s chat about why centers like it are important––and, believe me, there aren’t many places like Sista Afya, sadly. “Sometimes people keep saying this BS that Black people don’t want to engage in therapy,” says Camesha. Ah, yes, the narrative about which communities are and aren’t receptive to supportive healing, created by those outside the community to stigmatize and keep critical infrastructure like therapy from reaching those who need it. Camesha flatly refutes the trope. “People are reaching out about therapy more than they ever have before in our community. And, so for us to serve those people, we need support.” 

Camesha has built a center that’s community focused down to its core. The name, for instance, combines sista, a term of endearment used between Black women, and afya, a Swahili word that means to be healthy, free from psychological and physical illness. As for the space itself, while the bricks-and-mortar location is lovely, Camesha explains that its spirit extends well beyond the walls. “Everybody’s entry point [to wellness] is not therapy. Sometimes someone’s entry point is the support or a brunch or a conversation at a coffee shop. We’re trying to meet Black women in a variety of different ways.”

In her own life, Camesha takes continual care to address challenges inherent to living with bi-polar disorder. She offers hope to folks, including fellow therapists, with similar experiences, modelling self-awareness and practicing sustainable self-care while running a successful business. “I go to therapy. I go to my psychiatrist. I take my meds. I do all the things [ ] and that’s part of why I call myself a mental illness survivor,” she says, adding, “we’re dealing with some of the same things, we’re all dealing with some of the same things. It doesn’t mean that we can’t be effective in this work.”

To donate to Sista Afya’s Whole Women, Whole Communities campaign, please visit: https://donorbox.org/saccwholewomen/fundraiser/sarah-buino

MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

CWH e151: Shauna Murray Brown – Anti-oppressive and Liberation-focused

CWH e150: Mishara Winston – A Model for Communal Mental Wellness

CWH e136: Cassie Walker – Angry and Tender, Intersectional Healing

GUEST CONTACT INFO & BIO

Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness.

Camesha Jones, LCSW, is a Social Worker, Entrepreneur, and Community Mental Wellness Advocate who serves at the intersection of culture, community, and social justice. Camesha strongly believes in eliminating barriers in the mental health field that people of diverse cultural backgrounds experience by creating affordable and accessible care that centers on the well-being of the whole person.

Camesha is the Founder and Executive Director of Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness. 

“WHOLE WOMAN, WHOLE COMMUNITIES” FUNDRAISER INFO

To donate to Sista Afya’s campaign, please visit: https://donorbox.org/saccwholewomen/fundraiser/sarah-buino

I’m excited to support Sista Afya’s Fall campaign, “Whole Women. Whole Communities.” This year, Sista Afya Community Care has offered 650 free therapy sessions and over 35 community workshops and classes that have collectively served over 200 women.

The goal is to raise $35,000 to continue offering free mental wellness care to Black women in Chicago. They need your support to sustain the progress they’ve made so far. Sista Afya continues to remove barriers to accessing mental wellness care in their communities.

Will you contribute to the annual year-end campaign by giving $50, $100, $250, or whatever amount you can towards our goal of $35,000 to help deepen the impact in providing free mental wellness care for Black women? The campaign will run the entire month of December, but make sure to donate now.


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