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Makeba Reed-Johnson, MPH, MPA, BSW; Self-Care is Essential to Every Woman’s Mental Health Blueprint

May 2018


Makeba Reed-Johnson The daily demands of school, life and traumatic events can trigger stress. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress can negatively impact a person’s mental health. Spelman College has invested in initiatives and programs that enhance health equity and address health issues affecting Black women today.

“Spelman College is effectively meeting the needs of our students who are charged with the task of becoming world changers,” said Makeba Reed-Johnson, assistant director of wellness at the Spelman Wellness Center and a mental health advocate. “Black women who are involved in social justice and being revolutionaries need to realize that caring for themselves is the revolution.”

Reed-Johnson overseas fitness and wellness programs at the Wellness Center, a 61,500 square foot facility that includes a natatorium, gymnasium, open workout and cardio areas, three multipurpose studios, a classroom with demonstration kitchen and administrative spaces. The Center’s goal is to help Black women transform their lives by empowering and educating them on the value of lifelong wellness as a means of strengthening communities of color.

In addition to her work at the Wellness Center, Reed-Johnson is a vibrational sound therapist and self-care consultant. She is also a trained boxer and has introduced numerous Black women and girls to the emotional and mental benefits of the sport. She said it is crucial that Black women have an outlet, like boxing or sound therapy, to release stress and anxiety. “Black women have historically been the harbingers of change and the backbone of the family,” said Reed-Johnson.

Reed-Johnson, a two-time Women’s National Golden Gloves champion, founded Black Girls Box in 2015. The sport’s therapeutic benefits have helped in her own battle with depression and anxiety and led her to pursue her national certification in mental health first aid. 

In her classes and as a mentor, Reed-Johnson challenges Spelman students to consider the following question to help determine whether they are adequately practicing self-care: When do you make time to rest, meditate, do yoga or be still? “Black women need permission to rest without the guilt of being made to feel we need to be crossing yet something else off a to-do list,” she said.

Reed-Johnson earned her master’s degree in public administration and bachelor’s degree in social work from Georgia State University. She also holds a master’s degree in public health from Walden University.

She can provide perspective on the following topics: emotional wellness and Black women, self-care, sound therapy/sound healing, and women and boxing.

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