Woman turns trauma into career to help others with mental health

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan — May is Mental Health Awareness month. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than one in five adults lives with a mental illness. The way they cope is important. A Lansing woman who has turned her trauma into a career of helping others shares how to manage her mental health positively.

Woman turns trauma into career to help others manage mental health in positive ways

Angela Hook didn’t know it at the time, but at just nine years old her childhood trauma left her suffering from anxiety and depression. At first she turned to cigarettes, then her coping method increased.

“From cigarettes, I started drinking alcohol, from alcohol, I started experimenting with marijuana, from there I started smoking crack,” Hook said.

She found herself stealing, in and out of bad relationships, and going against her faith to maintain her addiction.

It affected his life, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. She had kids at the time and couldn’t quite be the best mother she knew she could be. Until one day, a close call changed her life.

“I remember having a binge of getting high and I ended up rolling over my son, and when I woke up my son was blue and barely breathing,” Hook said.

Hook believes her four-month-old son at the time was her guardian angel and pressed her for the help she needed. She joined a Narcotics Anonymous program and began counseling to get to the root of her anxiety and depression so she could heal.

Today, she is 30 years sober with two master’s degrees, working as a licensed professional counselor to help others with their mental health.

“I’m always talking to people about how God has led me through situations and I share my story to let people know that you don’t have to stay in the rut that you’re in, there is hope,” Hook said.

She also shows them how to do what she didn’t – cope in a healthy way. Instead of resorting to destructive habits like drugs and alcohol, she encourages people to try things that uplift them. Like getting a counselor, focusing on self-care by eating right and exercising, practicing stress management techniques like journaling, and practicing mindfulness.

“We need to be advocates around mental health, we need to know that there’s nothing wrong with saying I need help,” Hook said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, here are some resources from the National Institute of Mental Health:

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): For general mental health information and to locate treatment services in your area, call the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator on its website which is searchable by location.

Crisis and Suicide Lifeline 988
Call or text 988
Lifeline provides confidential 24-hour support to anyone experiencing suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Call or text 988 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Veterans Crisis Line
To use Chat about the Veterans Crisis On the Internet
The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects veterans 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with a trained first responder. The service is available to all veterans and those who support them, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in the VA health care system.

If you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates, contact the social media company’s security teams. They will reach out to connect the person with the help they need.

View the 5 Action Steps to Help Someone in Emotional Pain infographic to see how you can help those in distress.

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Woman turns trauma into career to help others with mental health

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