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We hear it all the time: We are experiencing a mental health crisis.

In recent years, the use of mental health services jumped by nearly 40% among millions of commercially insured and American adults, according to a recent JAMA Health Forum. Those patients are seeking help for everything from anxiety and depression to substance use disorder and relationship struggles.

With that, there's been more of a push to talk about our mental health, and this year, we are joining that conversation with a new series called Wake Up Well. Once a month, we'll discuss a timely topic and how it affects our mental health and our community.

These conversations are not meant to be an end-all, be-all, nor are they are a substitute for professional treatment. But we do hope they can be a jumping off point.

Nieisha Deed, founder of the wellness platform PureSpark, said talking about mental health is vital — and that starting those conversations is something many people can do.

“Just kind of looking at some of the topics, I think that they're going to be able to help a lot of people in really being able to talk to it from not only a lived experience perspective like myself, but also having clinicians and holistic practitioners,” she said. “It's a collaborative effort. We cannot put all of the effort focused on therapists. We don't have enough therapists. We need people like news anchors and news publications also to get in on this, because this is a serious problem that's affecting all of us.”

Her organization, PureSpark, hosts a wellness directory that helps people find providers, with a focus on Black communities. It also hosts wellness events.

“PureSpark is really an organization that's focused on mental health equity,” Deed said. “We hear about health equity. But this is really focusing on the Black population in Boston and helping them along their wellness journey.”

It’s a mission that comes from Deed’s personal experience with her mental wellness.

“I'm a person that was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2007. And 10 years later, in 2017, I had my own crisis where I just didn't want to be here anymore,” she said. “And beyond that, I have four family members that passed away to suicide. And I just got angry and frustrated. If you look at the statistics, just for Black Americans, Black people living in the U.S., it's stark.”

“I think we have to get more specific because we need the care to kind of look like the people that they're serving,” she said.

To kick off the Wake Up Well series, she shared an affirmation: “I trust myself.”

“I think oftentimes people see me as being very confident, and that's because I trust myself. And trusting myself has allowed me to do the work that I do.”