ABOUT REAL QUEENS
Real Queens was founded in 2019 by Bria Mays, following a lived experience with mental health disparities and the challenges that can result from this. With the pandemic shocking the world, prompting such detrimental threats of an increase in anxiety, depression, financial constraints, physical health concerns, self-isolation and overall creating such an imbalance in well-being, it became inherently important to support the destigmatization of mental health and lean on one another now more than ever.
Real Queens’ vision for success and the overall goal is simply that women and girls use their voices to challenge gender inequality and be the change. We have three focuses to dismantle racism and make the most significant impact to reach this goal. This includes access to mental health support to provide a safe space free from judgment and ensure that there’s a line to public education regarding mental health and that women and girls are confident to use it.
CULTIVATE BRAVE SPACES
Real Queens cultivates brave spaces that generate sustainability in communities by expanding safe spaces available for the public to engage in community healing, support, and access to mental health resources. The development of brave areas for social sustainability stimulates social interaction, a sense of belonging, and continuous community development. Additionally, brave spaces restore social capital lost due to mental illness, such as housing, education, employment, and community connectedness [Maughan & Burgess, 2016). At the same time, brave spaces emphasize cultural wealth while increasing the quality of societal care for those in need of support. Real Queens readily cultivates brave spaces with its network to drive change through partnerships with community leaders and established organizations. In addition, real Queens mobilizes members for change as an essential part of the network. Real Queens realize the profound value of their women and young girls in service and being served. Each one creates a community filled with love, kindness, strength, and the ability to uplift.
We’ve organized various spaces in the community that allows for engagement, such as a community garden, women empowerment brunches, and yoga sessions, and the now post covid world, we are planning even more in-person recreational activities that focus on mental health and presenting tools to equip the group with battling their mental health journey.
PROVIDING PUBLIC EDUCATION
Real Queens facilitates public education for individuals and communities to foster social well-being. Social well-being boosts the ability of people to be free from want of basic needs, which allows them to feel authentic and valued. In addition, it provides a sense of connectedness and belonging. Real Queens educates women and young girls on mental health and the power of their voices. As a result, women and young girls level up and willingly advocate for an improved quality of life for themselves and their loved ones. By speaking up, communities can destigmatize mental health and create productive dialogues around mental health. Real Queens advances the conversation through public education mediums such as town halls, newsletters, and social media. In addition, the Real Queens fundable community model directly impacts those ready to understand the role of mental health in their own lives, learn about available services, and use their voices to create change around gender inequality. Real Queens realize that, as women, we have power in our actions. Therefore, we need each other, and we are stronger together.
We’ve been a part of various events surrounding the idea of mental health to destigmatize the subject and shared factually based information on symptoms of mental illness, facts around the issue, and the historical evolution of mental health regarding women, for example, the term hysteria used in 1900 BC to now. From an abnormality to the realization that mental illness is actual. We’ve worked extensively with the nonprofit, Measure to develop the timeline.
Working with the Andy Roddick foundation, we are planning partnerships with Austin Independent School District (AISD) to implement dozens of workshops for students to discuss mental health resources throughout the school year.
Actively gathering data and metrics with surveys, online research, and interviews to determine the level of understanding in the community of mental health, how mental health is currently being practiced, what the level of comfort and frequency is when participating in mental health support resources and assess current support systems.
ADVANCE COMMUNITY HEALING
Real Queens seeks to stand by the side of women and young girls by increasing access to community healing. Community healing brings together current and future generations for support and resources to improve their daily lives and mental health. Furthermore, Real Queens elected to nurture community healing by developing equitable supports such as workshops, virtual programming, and means of connection to mental health service providers. In judgment-free spaces, women and young girls will receive gender-specific and culturally responsive mental health support regularly. With the various pressures placed on women of today, the existence of safe spaces is vital for women to discuss and address cognitive health factors to improve their well-being. In addition, women and young girls value support systems that allow them to express their current mental health state, identify the signs of what they are going through, and gain healthy coping strategies. Ultimately, this program builds a prepared community that encourages and helps others, especially when another person is in greater need. This initiative gives women and young girls the outlets needed to bring together current and future generations for support and resources to improve their daily lives and mental health.
We’ve held multiple workshops with the Girls Empowerment Network, the black leadership academy, Contigo Wellness, and No More No Mas Austin in hybrid and in person workshops, including formal fact-based presentations and transition to informal discussions regarding friends’ experiences.
To gauge community needs and inform future programming, we also collect data from attendees.
Since our founding in 2019, Real Queens has held roughly two dozen workshops in person and virtual with young girls ages 13-18 about the importance of mental health and encouraged an open dialogue about the subject.
We’ve worked with SAFE Alliance on multiple occasions with moms and young adults escaping an abusive situation to offer information on how to obtain therapy following any trauma experienced.
Plans are in place to secure a therapist team with Crave counseling as a pro bono resource to provide group therapy sessions organized by Real Queens.