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We just concluded the month of May and though Mental Health Awareness month may be over, Shamanda Burston is here to let us know that we should be continuing the conversation all-year round. With the upcoming release of her new book, Wounded Healer (available on June 20th) we wanted to sit down with her to discuss the much-needed conversation surrounding all things mental health in the black community.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Shamanda Burston, I am originally from Shelby, North Carolina. I was in Charlotte for a couple of years but now, I am living in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m a licensed addictions specialist and professional mental health counselor. I’ve been providing treatment for behavioral health and psychology for over ten years. I’m also a single mom of two and an entrepreneur!

What inspired the creation of your new book, Wounded Healer?

The major inspiration for it was transparency. In my therapy sessions, it’s always about the client or the patient. I noticed that many clients from under-served population don’t have many positive examples of making it out, overcoming teen pregnancies, abuse, trauma, and things of those sorts. I decided it was time to share my story because I had overcome all of those things. I knew that by me sharing my experience, it would allow people to see that it was possible to overcome those things. I wanted to be the positive example of what it looks like to step out on faith, overcome those challenges, and the healing process to get to that next level.

Why are you so passionate about being an advocate and bringing awareness to mental health?

After working in the field of mental health and addiction, I realized that there is a major stigma attached to mental health diagnosis or any type of mental health period. What I wanted to do and what I strive to do every day is to decrease that stigma so that people feel more comfortable seeking help. There is this idea that you have to be very strong or you have to always have to have the answers. It’s okay to seek out health and to heal from your past so that you can be a better person. I know that having my own mental health challenges, overcoming anxiety, and PTSD from being a domestic violence survivor would allow me to speak from both sides. I felt like I was a good person to step out and be an advocate so I am very passionate about that.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Well, I’m very excited. I moved to Atlanta because I knew it’s the “Black Hollywood.” I’m excited because I am transitioning from your traditional counseling into media and television production. My goal is to introduce and intergrade mental health into media platforms. I want to be able to get mental health out in front of everybody on a large platform. It’s all for the cause of de-stigmatizing it.

For more on Shamada Burston, click here!

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All images courtesy of Shamanda Burston | provided by Candice Nicole Public Relations