Darian Hall On HealHaus Welcoming Communities Of Color To Wellness
By: Michelle Zuluaga
Photos: Morgana Van Peebles
Tell me about your personal journey that brought you to HealHaus.
My personal journey began when I left the corporate medical field to travel around the world for six months. This transformative trip was the catalyst to everything that followed after. I decided to meet my father for the first time in my life and share this vulnerable experience on social media which in turn created this space for other men to start open conversations about their own internal struggles. I thought about the lack of communication between men and our tendency to harbor our burdens to ourselves which can build up anxiety or depression that start to play out in other aspects of our lives if not dealt with. I realized that men did want to talk about these issues but lacked the space to commune, free of judgement. This is where I envisioned HealHaus: a space that would fill this need and provide therapy to people of color, especially men. Along with my co-founder,Elisa Shankle, our goals to become impactful was to infiltrate popular culture by making wellness cool and therapy comfortable.
I noticed HealHaus prides itself on connecting mental, emotional and physical health under one roof. How would you explain that the mind, body, and soul work in unison?
Traditionally, with men in particular, there is a lot of focus on the physical aspect thus neglecting the other two but it is important to heal those parts of yourself as well. HealHaus prides itself on being a warm and familiar space so it eliminates any prior intimidation factor so that people are able to come and take whatever they personally need. We offer different modalities of healing to make the trifecta of wellness accessible and allow the individual to start addressing all of the other parts of their being beyond the physical.
Tell me about the stigma surrounding mental health in communities of color and what you think has traditionally contributed to it?
Traditionally, mental health has always been associated with the notion that something is wrong with you or that you are in fact crazy. This has been passed down to us from our families and, with communities of color in particular, has been embedded by traumas in the history of our DNA that can be traced all the way back to slavery. These are ideas that we have inherited but never fully unpacked or knew how to properly deal with.
Why do you believe that healing and wellness are important, especially for people of color?
So many of us feel the need to suppress the issues we wrestle with when we feel the fear of stigmas attached with these same issues, and it is important that we shift this culture. It has been so powerful to see men come into this space and share things they otherwise would have naturally kept to themselves. Acknowledging these issues by starting conversations about them prevent them from manifesting in other parts of our lives. It is key for us to be aware that the resources needed to begin healing, like HealHaus, are available for us.
For the sake of representation, what do you think is one of the most common emotional obstacles for black men?
The conversation could really start with why men do not show vulnerability and see it as a weakness. From early on in childhood, we are conditioned to not cry and to be strong until these eventually become prevalent habits as we mature. There is nothing wrong with freely expressing true human emotion to the people that really want to support you.
In a generation where self-care has become a viral hashtag associated with bath bombs and face masks, what does self-care mean to you?
For me, self-care is finding out what works best for you. Before the popular culture of self-care came about, I only knew the ways through which I decompressed which was usually through music. That by itself was wellness to me before the term came up in society as a labeled concept. Everyone needs to find out what works for them to check in with themselves.
Where do you see HealHaus in the next 5 years?
HealHaus has ambitious plans about the community we are building to impact change in individual lives. We just launched a corporate wellness program to bring the HealHaus experience to the office to ultimately affect change in work culture where people spend majority of their time. Our overall goal is to keep promoting change by shifting the culture. Plans for expansion have been heavily supported by communities asking for our presence which lets us know that larger locations are ready for a space like HealHaus.
Is there any one experience or personal testimony from a member at HealHaus that has distinctively stuck with you?
Everyone from a young Black man like myself to an older White woman with what seems to be nothing in common, have come into this space and shared personal dilemmas they are dealing with. What this has distinctively told me is that this is bigger than healing for a specific niche group of people, but rather that as a human collective, we all need these spaces to check in with ourselves and realize how we are all connected.
Most of our readers can benefit from this answer - what are your parting words of advice for the everyday 20-30 year old person of color?
Find what works for you. You are probably already doing things that allow you to destress but it is important to identify those practices because you might not be aware of them. Always have about one or two personal practices to check in with yourself that you can identify with. Here at HealHaus, we welcome everyone with open arms to find what works for them in terms of workshops, classes, and private services.
To finish off strong here is a quick fireball round of questions.
What is your favorite class at HealHaus?
Favorite daily wellness ritual you can’t live without?
I have to start my mornings with music to set the tone of my day by making sure its the right song.
Favorite style tip?
Understanding what works for you! I always say the person makes the clothes - the clothes don’t make the person.
Lastly for the month of February, define love in its simplest form.
Love always starts with self. We tend to connect love with another person but to be truly in love is to be in love with yourself.