Aug 03, 1:00 PM EDT

Releasing the Eagle Within: A Talk on Uncovering & Healing Past Traumas

In this moment of social disruption and societal upheaval, many people are experiencing personal and collective revelations about their life’s journey both past and present. With that comes the unfortunate reality of trauma that has yet to be acknowledged, let alone addressed and reconciled. This can be further complicated by a dearth of appropriate spaces in which to undergo the process of healing, an all-too-real barrier to entry for People of Color and the LBGTQ+ community, for example. 

In this conversation, artist-scholar Dr. David Fakunle and mental health counselor Melissa Wesner will discuss ways to navigate uncovering and dealing with trauma, and how to start the process of becoming one’s true self. Additionally, they will talk about how mental health professionals and those seeking mental health services are giving greater consideration to the arts as a method to increase accessibility to mental health assistance and increase availability of culturally relevant mental health resources.


David Olawuyi Fakunle, Ph.D. is a self-described “mercenary for change,” willing to employ any talent and occupy any space to elevate anyone who feels divested from their truest self, particularly People of Color. David earned a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where he is currently associate faculty in the Mental Health department. David’s research interests include stressors within the built environment, manifestations of institutional racism in society, and the utilization of arts and culture to strengthen health, equity, and ultimately liberation.

As an artist, David has utilized African storytelling, African drumming, vocal and theater performance in the proclamation of truth for over 20 years. He has performed with companies such as the Sankofa Dance Theater, the Washington Revels, and WombWork Productions, among others. His affiliations include The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, the National Association of Black Storytellers, and the Griots’ Circle of Maryland. David is co-founder and CEO of DiscoverME/RecoverME, an organization that empowers narrative for personal and organizational growth through the African oral tradition. David also serves as Chair of thE Maryland Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first state body in the United States dedicated to chronicling and bringing justice to racial terror lynchings.


Melissa Wesner is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who strives to provide adults with hope, healing, and empowerment through the collaborative process of counseling. She believes that counseling allows people to find their voice and work towards positive change.

Melissa is the owner of LifeSpring Counseling Services, a group practice in Towson, MD. She is a sex therapist and Certified Brainspotter who helps people work through depression, anxiety, trauma, and substance use. Melissa holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Community Counseling and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual and Existential Approaches to Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. She has also completed the University of Michigan’s year-long Sexual Health Certificate Program.  

About Ask the Experts

It's estimated that 1 in 5 people have a mental health condition. In 2020, that's over 1.9 billion people. But despite the high rates of mental illness, accessing reliable, quality care remains a luxury in most countries. Barriers to treatment — including complicated insurance plans, high costs and a shortage of mental health care workers — keep the vast majority of sufferers from receiving the advice and support they deserve.

We believe that the internet can help us chip away at these barriers. No, we won't fix the system overnight, but we can start using technological tools to our advantage. And in doing so, make valuable opinions more accessible to those in need.

Ask the Experts is an ongoing Q&A series featuring leading psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, family physicians, social workers and other mental heath care leaders. It was created to bring trustworthy information and recommendations to the community for free. Before each Q&A, spend some time looking into that week's guest and come prepared with questions that are relevant to your experiences and their expertise.

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