Mental Health for queer BIPOC is on our agenda big time this year, and we touched base with Dr. LaNail R. Plummer to see what her Onyx Therapy Group has in store for our community!
Now that we are well into Black History Month 2023, it’s time to recognize trailblazers, innovators, and pioneers that have paved the way before and for us in the Black community. In celebration of this historic month, Onyx Therapy Group, a DC based mental health organization is making history by breaking stigmas around mental health in Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ communities.
Founded in 2013 by Dr. LaNail R. Plummer, the organization of over 30 Black professionals work effortlessly to provide exceptional services to their community through counseling, education, and service work. With roots in DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota their mission is to address mental health issues and disparities in communities, organizations, and individuals in need by creating online content, lending their voices to conversations at universities and organizations around mental health.
The team at Onyx has spent the last 10 years looking for creative ways to educate, counsel, and provide resources to their own underserved communities through in-person community events, their new Onyx blog, and through research and development of trending tricks and skills.
With a successful year behind them, Onyx plans to reach new heights in 2023 and has already hit the ground running. Onyx has officially announced its first two community events taking place February 5 at the Eaton Hotel in DC, and April 16 at the Auto Shop at Union Market.
The “Onyx at the Eaton” event, which is also their 10 Year celebration party, will include a Vision Board Workshop, advice on planning for the future, with small bites and live music. Then in April, Onyx will celebrate its second annual Mental Health Fair with yoga classes, over 20 Black-owned vendors, and two panel discussions around mental health.
Do you have any personal or professional resolutions for 2023?
Dr. LaNail R. Plummer: Ha! You know, I don’t have “resolutions” anymore. It’s not because I’m one of the “new world” people who believe there are better words or trendy terms. Instead. I take it back to the actual definition. Resolution means to resolve…as if the 1st solution wasn’t good enough or that there is actually something that needs to be fixed. Instead, I stand in a position of acceptance, gratitude, and vision. That means, I accept what is and what was. I accept that it may not have been what I wanted or how I wanted it…but it is what the Universe deemed appropriate for whatever is ahead of me.And, for that, I am grateful…even in sad times. At the top of each year, I sit in a space of vision. So, instead of resolutions, I envision what could be and make moves to transform that vision into reality…with gratitude as a stepping stone along the way.
In short—my vision for 2023 includes a business that remains grounded and grows based on the impact of our work and not the popularity of our name. I want IMPACT and a positive influence. Not popularity. I envision my children stepping into their own identities and being grateful with who they are…not defined by others or external perceptions…but rather who they know they are and who they want to continue to be. I envision myself speaking a new language (I’m working on Spanish 1st) and using my voice in a public format, to help others. So, I guess my vision is to continue to do what I do….and ask for more abundance of opportunities with less hustle and bustle….an opportunity to work and be…without the stress 🙂
Have you tweaked, revised, upgraded or accelerated any of her missions and mandates from 2022 based on the experiences and outcomes from that year?
Dr. LaNail R. Plummer: 2022 was a great year for Onyx. At the end of 2021, I asked for cleansing, of sorts. Which manifested to a series of compassionate transitions (aka terminations) of staff that was best suited in other companies/practices, a termination of contracts that were not aligned with the values of the company (these contracts may have matched from an external and objective perspective but there was not harmony which caused issues within the company, and I envisioned prosperity for her team. Inasmuch, this cleansing lead to a “freeing of space” which allowed better opportunities to enter. With that, she was able to provide company-wide pay raises and resume staff gatherings and shared spaces, which is good for the culture and community of the company while also showing how much she values the people that work with her. So, she did not tweak much for 2023 but she did listen to the feedback from her staff and client surveys while incorporating it into the vision she set. In short, she created a triangulation of spirituality, community building, and evidence-based practices to create the vision for 2023.
What dates should we save this year for Onyx events? I get the feeling something special is happening this year.
Dr. LaNail R. Plummer: Yes, 2023 is Onyx’s 10 year anniversary. 10 years!!! How superb! So there is much is store for the community, with Onyx at the helm. And each event will be a celebration of what was, what is, and what will come. We are kicking it off with a Vision Board party on 2/5/23 at the Eaton hotel (12pm-3pm) and our Annual Mental Health Fair is set for 4/16/23 from 11am- 4pm at the Auto Shop in NE DC (Union Market). We will have 2-3 panels, 25 vendors, yoga sessions, and a wonderful gathering of community! We are excited!
The last 3 years have been tough. A few folks we know have not made it due to health or suicide. Any words of wisdom or encouragement for 2023.
Dr. LaNail R. Plummer: Suicide is a painful experience, clearly for the one who made the choice to transition out of the world and for the family that they leave behind. Dr. Plummer’s beliefs are rooted in spirituality and accompanied with theory, technique, and lived experiences. Inasmuch, her spirituality yields to the belief of infinite timing. One thinks they choose life and death, but spiritual permission must be granted before and after thus yielding the thought that “it was, indeed, their time to go”, even though it appears to have happened with choice. The comfort in that is, their purpose was served, even if it was shorter than we wanted, hoped, or envisioned. And we are often left with the pain of “What if”… And, as therapists, we know “what if” is a dark and dangerous hole that should be avoided, like quicksand. Therefore, her words of wisdom is: Continue to move forward, strive, thrive, and live…and when you are tired from the pressure, pain, and confusion of the world, sit down and rest. And rest for as long as you need to and every time you need to. And know, that is perfect and ok.