Two women talking outside.
Innovation Stories

Courageous Conversations for Mental Health

Mental health and wellness in the Black community
by Timothy Bowman | September 23, 2021

Meet the Innovator

Photo of Linda Brown.

Linda Brown is an entrepreneur, certified life coach, content creator, and licensed mental health counselor. She is called to address mental health and wellness in the Black community, especially for women, through the black church. 

Linda lives in central Florida and had many ministry experiences before arriving where she is now. Before her current focus, Linda was part of a church plant where she was at various times the worship pastor, associate pastor, and senior pastor. She knew she wasn’t called to be a senior pastor, but she also knew she was called to keep helping churches. She went through a difficult divorce and wanted to give up on ministry, but then felt God calling her to other ways of ministering. She was already a certified life coach and pursued licensure as a mental health counselor.

Linda has sought to base her life and ministry on Romans 12:1 (from The Message): “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”  

Flyer that states "Impossibilities are Possible with God". It contains a photo of Linda Brown.

Ministry in all Places

Linda Brown has been in the field of social services for a few decades, but her current calling has been a fairly recent one. For a time she worked with teen moms teaching them independent living skills and how to juggle the demands of parenthood, school, and work. She remembers two particular young ladies who did not appreciate how strict she was being with them. But then one night Linda got a call from them at 12:01 AM because they wanted to be the first two people to wish her a Happy Mothers Day. 

She also works with a few local groups of entrepreneurs and business owners. And while she says she doesn’t explicitly share Jesus or faith in these circles, they have said to her that they hear the message of Jesus through her. She attributes this to how she lets them be themselves in those spaces and how they allow her to be herself too.

Six women in a mixture of contemporary and African-style dresses.

Mental Health and Wellness

Currently as her main ministry focus, Linda wants to help educate pastors and other community leaders through courageous conversations around issues of mental wellness in their churches and in their communities. Linda explained that mental health and mental wellness are not things that are addressed. “You just don’t talk about it,” she said. So, Linda wants to help break that stigma starting with leaders.

“A lot of pastors don’t even know that they have people who are suffering from mental challenges,” she shared. Linda remembers that in her own church a young woman came forward for prayer and the pastors began trying to cast out a demon from her. This woman became very offended and left the church because she knew she had some mental challenges, not a demon. “Not everything is a demon, many times there is a true chemical imbalance that needs to be addressed,”Linda explained. If pastors are unaware of what people are going through and experiencing in their congregations, how can they help address it?

COVID-19 has shown us that issues around mental health and wellness are more important now than ever. During the pandemic Linda’s questions to the pastors she has been working with have been:

  • How are you staying connected with people?
  • How are you especially connecting with those who are suffering mentally?
  • How are you nurturing your soul (mind, will, and emotions)?

She wants to pay particular attention to the people who are suffering in silence, because mental wellness is just not addressed.

A Talk Show Coming Soon

Flyer for a book called Queens who Died the Odds.

Linda’s path on this road of ministry has already taken an interesting turn in the form of a TV talk show. Originally she was planning on doing this work in a very methodical and deliberate way. She was assembling her team, networking, and hoping to have courageous conversations with church leaders by educating them and letting them know what the concerns are from practitioners and mental health professionals. She is still planning on doing this work, but another opportunity arose to reach a much wider audience. An area pastor who also happens to own a local media group approached her about giving her space to start her own talk show to address issues of mental health and wellness. Only a few days before this opportunity came she had prayed to God asking what the next steps in her ministry were; then, the pastor called with this opportunity. The talk show doesn’t yet have a name but will be coming to the Orlando area soon.

Linda can be found on Instagram @fullyunleashingher, on Facebook as Fully Unleashing Life or @FullyUnleashingLifeLady or at her website https://www.fullyunleashinglife.org/

Prayer

Holy God, thank you for Linda and all those who work in the field of mental health and wellness. Bless them in their work of bringing your wholeness and wellbeing to people who need it. Help all of us who experience mental health problems and bring your healing Spirit to us. Help us all break the stigma that surrounds mental health so that people can get the care they so desperately need. In Your holy name, Amen. 

About the Author

Timothy Bowman is an ELCA pastor currently serving in the Southeastern Minnesota Synod along with his wife, Allyson. Most recently serving as Associate Pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Mankato, MN, he is now serving Grace Lutheran Church in Nerstrand, MN, and also serves as a board member of Crossroads Campus Ministry at Minnesota State Mankato.  Tim has an MDiv (Luther Seminary) and a BA (Bethel University). As part of the Seeds Project Tim is partnering with Luther Seminary’s Faith+Lead platform as a Digital Journalist working to share the stories of identified Innovators on Faith+Lead.

Upcoming Learning Experiences

Don't Miss an Insight

Get The Faith+Leader delivered directly to your inbox.

Unsubscribe anytime. We'll never rent or share your information.

Next Post