Yin Yang Mental Wellness Center

Elyssah Long, Volunteer Writer

On March 3, 2022, The University of North Alabama welcomed Afiya Hooker and Joanna Johnson to talk about mental health and its role on the spectrum of diversity. Hooker and Johnson are both founders of the Yin Yang Wellness Center located in Mobile, Alabama, where they have left their mark in history as the first women of color to accomplish that in their area.

Along with a presentation including topics on mental health stigmas and perception, Hooker and Johnson opened the floor to the audience for questions, to which many students curiously participated. 

“Starting early is early detection…thirty-five year old you will perceive and handle things completely differently,” Hooker said when asked about the importance of mental health communication for younger communities. According to Hooker, seeking mental health treatment as a younger individual provides a solid foundation that will be beneficial in the future. 

“ If you go to therapy ahead of time and focus on your mental health challenges…then you’re already set up with skills and tools that you can use further that will assist you,” she said.

Johnson, who primarily works with adults ages eighteen to sixty-five, has witnessed the consequences of her clients not getting earlier treatment. 

“A common thing that I have noticed over the years, as far as my older clients go, is the concept of regret. Regret is very difficult to treat because time is precious; You cannot get time back.” Johnson said, emphasizing that earlier treatment reduces one’s likelihood of experiencing most challenges that have proven to be prevalent in mental health.

“There has to be some type of communication,” Hooker said when asked how society can help reduce stigmas in mental health. In a civilization immersed in avoidance of difficult communication topics such as mental health challenges, “talking about it,” she says, will be an advantageous start for normalizing mental health.

While being the first female black-owned mental health center in Mobile, Hooker, and Johnson are inevitably presented with challenges. 

“It’s bittersweet because it’s 2022,” Hooker said, explaining the reality of their profession. “But it just shows us how much further we have to go, and how much more there is for you all to do.”  Despite the challenges they face, they take great pride and fulfillment in what they do. 

“It’s great that we have helped and are still helping to find a solution to what we experience in our communities…that wakes us up every day,” Hooker said. 

“I’m just really excited–since we are the first, that means there’s more to come.” Johnson said, expressing hope for the future. “And as we continue to grow, we can give ideas that other people can take and make better.”    

After meeting through a shared internship in 2013, Hooker and Johnson both knew they wanted more. 

“We both had dreams to grow and expand,” Hooker said. As their friendship flourished, they knew it was only right to fuse their dreams together.

 “Then covid happened, and in some way, that lit the fire.” Hooker said.  The Yin Yang Wellness Center opened in May of 2021 and has had much success since then. As holistic therapists, Afiya Hooker and Joanna Johnson’s goal is to help treat every aspect of health in people’s lives. They hope to accomplish this through hiring professionals such as nurse practitioners, psychical therapists, and social workers. Their central focus is helping individuals flow with the dualities of life–not only adapting to them but embracing their potential beauty.