Free online Black Resilience Summit slated for Tuesday
Article updated at 6:42 p.m. Friday, July 9, to add website and videos:
Nicole Rials is excited to build on the mental health work she’s done in the Lawrence-Douglas County community for 20 years.
Rials, who worked at Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center for several years, until her position was eliminated in April, has launched K. N. Rials Therapy and Consulting. She said she realized that she can now pursue her passions in different ways and expand a lot of the work she’s been focused on.
One of the two primary groups she wants to serve is first responders.
“The risk that first responders have as far as their overall mental health and wellness is very high,” she said. “So it’s a population that I really look forward to servicing.”
That will include therapy and critical incident response as well as training related to mental health services. Rials is also a trainer for Crisis Intervention Teams, which respond to behavioral health crises in the community. Those are services she plans to offer statewide, she said.
The other group she wants to serve is Black people, Indigenous people and People of Color, or BIPOC, ages 16 and older.
“Our mental health needs are not always prioritized,” she said. “My first message is that we prioritize our own mental health, that we recognize what our needs are, and that we give ourselves that space and that ability to make it something we address.”
Rials said she also wants to provide training for organizations and workplaces to deal with trauma or tragedy in the workplace. That sort of training is important for situations such as the loss of a colleague, or even just the stress and the trauma that some people experience from the workplace itself, she said.
“In my view, every organizational leader, regardless of how many people you are responsible for, should have a crisis response plan for when something happens within that team,” she said.
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and Rials is planning a virtual event next week, Black Resilience Summit: Navigating Mental Health for BIPOC.
“Our stress is real, our mental health needs are real, our pain is real,” Rials said, “and we are in a time where some people don’t recognize our pain. They don’t understand the dynamics of what someone who’s in the BIPOC community experiences.”
Rials said the event is intended for everyone, not just mental health practitioners. She said she hopes it will be very practical and relevant to everyone. The focus, language and perspectives are “definitely centered within the BIPOC community,” but supporters are welcome, she said.
“At the heart of it for me is really helping members of the BIPOC community with that ability to self-advocate and to prioritize their mental health needs,” Rials said.
“And to reduce some stigma,” she added — mental health and wellness aren’t just about what some people might think are chronic, long-term mental illnesses, but also daily life stressors “and things that accumulatively can overwhelm us.”
The event will start with an opening and three breakout sessions to choose from:
• Anthony J. Butler will speak about how to use skills in moments of crisis.
“Sometimes we learn a skill set and we have a lot of tools, but when we get into those crisis moments, it seems like anyone can revert back to maybe some ways that are unhealthy,” Rials said.
• Danica Moore, Ed.D., will speak about resiliency, restoration and how to advocate and meet challenges in the workplace as a member of the BIPOC community.
“There’s a lot of historical trauma that maybe we’re exposed to in workplace settings,” Rials said. “So how do we manage that?”
• Shakiyya Bland, Ed.D., will speak about how people can keep moving forward, which is essential to growth and seeing ourselves in a healthy future, Rials said.
“In the midst of everything that we deal with on a day-to-day basis, Dr. Bland is going to talk with us about how to maintain that hopeful, visionary mindset,” Rials said.
After the breakout sessions, the whole group will come back together for some reporting on each of the three sessions and major takeaways.
Rials is accepting new people seeking mental health services, training and consulting, and she can be reached at 785-766-3587. She’s expecting her business website to launch Friday (and we’ll add the link here when we get it). She also has a Facebook page for the business at this link.
Here’s a promo video with more info about the speakers for Tuesday’s event:
Update, 6:42 p.m. Friday, July 9:
Rials’ website has launched at knrialsconsulting.com.
You can learn more about her work and experience in the videos below.
Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-422-6363. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.