Personality: Dr. Arcelia ‘CC’ Jackson

Spotlight on board president of Mental Health America of Virginia

2/24/2022, 6 p.m.
Dr. Arcelia “CC” Jackson is bringing a caring, thoughtful approach to the issues and stigmas surrounding mental health in the …

Dr. Arcelia “CC” Jackson is bringing a caring, thoughtful approach to the issues and stigmas surrounding mental health in the Richmond community across her multiple disciplines and roles.

An ordained minister and licensed professional counselor, Dr. Jackson in late January took over the helm as board president of Mental Health America of Virginia, a nonprofit organization working with recovery, wellness and healing, the tenets behind its educational peer-run programs.

“Every day I work with people who are in acute mental health crises and make a determination as to whether these people will benefit from the resources of community mental health agencies or they require a higher level of support that may require hospitalization,” Dr. Jackson says.

“I meet amazing people who may be having the worst day of their lives and remind them of the possibilities of hope.”

While the New York native has served on MHAV’s board of directors for the last five years, her experience in human services spans decades. For more than 20 years, Dr. Jackson has served the well-being of the community through her expertise in health and religious matters. She has her own counseling service in Henrico County, Changing by Choice, and is the assistant pastor at Seventh Street Memorial Baptist Church, where her husband, Rev. Micah Jackson, is pastor.

With her work, Dr. Jackson has been able to see and address the kinds of mental health issues that MHAV works to resolve.

“I see the need daily for the stigma of mental illness to be demolished, and for those persons who need support to receive compassionate and comprehensive supportive services,” Dr. Jackson says.

The many ways she interacts with the Richmond community has allowed Dr. Jackson to also gain insight into how the broader community perceives mental health and the stereotypes that have developed around it.

For the African-American community in particular, Dr. Jackson seeks to build more empathy when it comes to men- tal health and move “beyond the religious and ideological stigma that our community has embraced” that leads some to regard mental health issues as a sign of weakness.

“Mental health,” she says, “should be addressed as intentional and vigorously as medical health.”

Dr. Jackson and MHAV already are planning for Mental Health Awareness Day in May and the organization’s annual Art Auction and Victory for Mental Health program scheduled for the fall.

“For 85 years this organization has advocated for the mental health of all Virginians, and for over five years I have been a part of a diversified board that understands the importance of our advocacy,” Dr. Jackson says. “We are consistently committed to ensure the best of mental health care and support for all Virginians.”

Meet the newest leader in local mental health support and this week’s Personality, Dr. Arcelia “CC” Jackson:

No. 1 volunteer position: Board president, Mental Health America of Virginia.

Occupation: Licensed professional counselor; certified substance abuse counselor-resident; and CEO of Changing By Choice.

Date and place of birth: April 23 in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Where I live now: Henrico County.

Education: Bachelor’s in religious studies and bachelor’s in criminal justice, Virginia Commonwealth University; masters of divinity, Virginia Union University; master’s in clinical mental health counseling, South University; and doctorate in health care administration, Virginia University of Lynchburg.

Family: Husband, Rev. Micah Jackson, pastor of Seventh Street Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. Jackson serves as assistant pastor; and two adult children, Aaron and Melanie, who, along with their spouses, have given them four grandbabies.

Mental Health America is: A nonprofit organization commit- ted to supporting those in need of mental health services.

When and where founded: Founded in 1909 in Connecticut, the national office is now in Alexandria, Va. Mental Health America of Virginia was founded in March 1937.

Founder: National founder, Clifford W. Beers; local founder, Dr. Beverly Tucker was the first board president, and his name is familiar to many as the Tucker Pavilion of Chippenham Hospital honors his work in psychiatry.

Mental Health America of Virginia: Is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit mental health organization working with recovery, wellness and healing as the foundational tenets behind our educational peer-run programs. We are the state-level representative for a national network that includes four community-based affiliates in Virginia.

Mission of MHAV: Mental Health America’s work is driven by its commitment to promote mental health as a critical part of overall wellness, including prevention services for all; early identification and intervention for those at risk; integrated care, services and supports for those who need them; with recovery as the goal.

When elected MHAV board president: Jan. 28 for a two-year term.

Historical significance of election: There are no current records to indicate there ever being an African-American to hold the position of president of MHAV.

No. 1 goal or project as board president: To normalize seeking mental health supportive services being as intentional and frequent as medical care.

Strategy for achieving goals: To use every opportunity to bring awareness to the importance of maintaining mental health.

Mental health is: The act of being cognizant of how your mind is processing how you think, feel and how you subsequently will behave; and knowing when to stop and let your mind rest.

Mental health care for Black Virginians is: Pressing beyond the religious and ideological stigma that our community has embraced about having mental health issues being a sign of weakness or demonic possession and understanding that stereotypes that were perpetuated in our community were the result of not understanding how the mind works. In many cases, it may have been meant to protect the person, but it caused more harm than good. It no longer has to be a secret! Mental health should be addressed as intentional and vigorously as medical health.

COVID-19’s continuing impact on mental health care is: Causing us to reflect and seek clearer understanding between our medical and mental health and understanding that this connection is worth exploring and understanding as it relates directly to one’s overall health.

How to access services provided by MHAV: MHAV has many online resources and on-demand webinars that can be completed in the comfort of one’s home. There are also some upcoming live webinars that are available beginning in April.

Registration: www.mhsva.org

Our Warm Line is: Our Peer-Run Warm Line is available for those who may need encouragement with general mental health support and those struggling with addiction in the Richmond area. The local office is available 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The number is (866) 400- 6428.

Other helpful resources: (888) 273- TALK (8255) and the local Community Services Board for the jurisdiction in which a person lives.

A perfect day for me is: A day when all of my family is in the same room and the room is filled with food, laughter, children screaming and the house is a complete mess.

How I quiet my mind: I love to listen to nature sounds and meditate.

My daily self-care routine is: Daily affirmations, taking time to check in on emotions, taking naps and always finding a reason to laugh.

What I am learning about myself during the pandemic: I’m learning how to set boundaries and implement self-care for myself even as I serve others.

Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: I love watching animated movies!

Quote that inspires me: “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” — Dr. Elvin Semrad. Every day I wake up and live my life in truth and work to be my authentic best self.

Friends describe me as: Real.

At the top of my “to-do” list: Take a vacation!

Best late-night snack: Applesauce.

Best thing my parents ever taught me: The power of self-sufficiency.

Persons who influenced me the most: Apostle Olive C. Brown and Dr. Patricia Gould-Champ.

Book that influenced me the most: “The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind and Body in the Healing of Trauma” by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

What I’m reading now: “A Promised Land” by former President Obama.

Next goal: Write my second book.