The holiday season can be difficult for many people, particularly those struggling with mental health issues. Vontoba Terry, the co-founder of the Black-owned brand Urban Hydration, is calling for more attention to be paid to the mental health of Black men in our community year-round. This need has been made all the more urgent by the recent loss of beloved dancer Stephen “tWitch” Boss.
Urban Hydration is a Black-owned brand dedicated to promoting wellness and self-care. Vontoba, along with his wife Psyche, has built a successful company around the gentle healing of our bodies. Now, they’re using their platform to give back to another type of healing by openly discussing mental health, eliminating the stigma associated with Black men particularly.
“I think it’s important to identify why there is a stigma in the first place,” says Vontoba. “Black men I know often find themselves in a situation where they have to be strong for their family and community and do more to get ahead, which creates a lot of pressure to hide what might be perceived as weakness. As men, we can move too fast in an effort to survive to address mental health.”
With the heartbreaking news of tWitch’s suicide, Vontoba says more can be done to improve mental health awareness.
“We need to talk about mental health in the workplace, in the barbershop, at the frat meeting, and in our family gatherings,” he says. “All men struggle in some way at some time.”
“We have watched tWitch since early in his career and even recently with his amazing performance with his wife in the Hip Hop Nutcracker. I only wish that he had the opportunity to make a different choice and receive the help and support he needed to keep going. His death is heartbreaking and his family is in my thoughts. Our primary care providers and doctors should be asking us questions about our mental health and providing quality mental health resources.”
In his journey as an entrepreneur who also balances family and business, Vontoba says he has learned ways to cope with challenges and deal with them when they arise.
“My wife Psyche and I are best friends who also run a business. It took time to learn how to balance our personalities and goals, but we figured it out. This journey required faith, purpose, and communication. We are okay with telling each other, ‘I’m tired, I’m not okay or this is a problem for me.’ Communication also includes honesty. Lies create a snowball. It’s best just to tell the truth from the beginning so that secrets don’t fester in the silence.
“There was a time when we built up a significant amount of debt in our business, and I felt that the weight of the pressure was squeezing me on all sides. This led to a lot of anxiety. I saw a counselor talk about what I was feeling and he helped me understand the root of my issues. As a result of prayer, reflection, and counseling, I now understand how important it is to not make business success or financial success part of my identity. Whether the business succeeded or failed, I still had a responsibility to be a great father and husband, surround myself with good advisors and make the best decisions possible.”
To highlight the importance of men’s self-care, the Terrys created a Black Men’s Mental Health Wellness Bundle. This includes its Castor & Shea Face Wash, Castor & Shea Face Lotion, and Aloe Toner with proceeds going towards its WATERisLIFE program that provides safe drinking water to those in need.
For more information on Urban Hydration and its give-back initiatives, visit www.urbanhydration.com.
About Urban Hydration:
Founded by Psyche and Vontoba Terry in 2009, the couple was challenged to create a clean beauty line that addressed dry skin and hair that wasn’t just fun and affordable, but healthy. Most importantly, these products are safe for the entire family to use without compromising gluten, poly beads, parabens, phthalates, paraffin, and silicones. Today, Urban Hydration is sold in more than 32,000 retail stores nationwide and the brand is committed to giving back. With the “1 product = 1 gallon of water” promise, Urban Hydration dedicated its first clean water drinking well to 300 Kenyan school children in 2018. Follow them on Instagram @urbanhydration.