We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Bianca Jones and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley Bianca, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
Wanting to give up sometimes is a natural feeling that we as humans face, especially when times are rough or when things don’t go as planned. Personally, what keeps me going is my “why” and my purpose. For those who don’t know theirs yet, It is okay. KEEP GOING until you find it. Don’t give up.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m very passionate about mental health and event planning. I know, two totally different fields. However, in 2018, I was able to successfully merge the two and create The Come-Union Gathering; A space that allows others to freely speak their truth and normalize the conversation on mental health. Each gathering has a different topic and theme. We’ve met at different locations such as barbershops, hair salons, coffee shops, restaurants and more. I’d like to think of The Come-Union as a non traditional support group. The gatherings are always a great opportunity to meet like minded individuals or even your potential therapist (as there are always professionals on site). This was all inspired by my personal struggles with mental health. Two years prior, I was diagnosed with Major depressive disorder and Generalized Anxiety disorder. I realized that I wasn’t alone in my struggles and that there was a need for community. In 2019, I held my very first half day mental wellness retreat with sponsors such as YouFit and Fitlife food. Throughout my advocacy journey, I’ve been able to connect and work with some very resourceful brands and mental health organizations such as NAMI, NATCO, And AFSP. Through NAMI, I’ve been given the opportunity to share my story with students, law enforcement, and even professionals from different fields. Through NATCO, I became a Certified Mental health first aid instructor which is basically CPR for mental health. It is an 8 hour course that teaches you more about mental health and how to get someone in crisis the appropriate help. I decided to become a certified instructor because I felt like there was a lack of understanding on what mental health really was. I later connected with AFSP. They are always providing me with resources to share with my peers and attendees at my events. The Journey hasn’t been the easiest, but it has truly given me purpose. The simple fact of knowing that The Come-Union has brought about connections and has made a difference in peoples’ lives is a great feeling. Being a mental health advocate doesn’t mean that you won’t face hardships along the way, but it gives you a new perspective on how to keep pressing on.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Brunch on Sunday is a must. There are so many options in South Florida, but I’ll narrow it down to two. Tomorrowland (ask for Franchesca) and Honey Uninhibited! Here’s a list of some of the restaurants we’d probably hit up during the week: Lil Greenhouse Grill is definitely one of my favorites (Their banana pudding is to die for) Don’t forget to hit up Italian Vice Miami down the street after! Red Rooster Overtown is filled with so much history. If you’re an old soul like I am, then you’ll appreciate the vibe and ambiance. They have great food, drinks, and music. Last time I went, they had a DJ playing nothing but old school classics! The Urban on Friday nights for Happy hour hosted by Social Xchange. Oh, and get the Mac and cheese! World Famous House Of Mac: I mean, that’s a Miami staple. You can’t come here and not try them. Victory Miami is a MUST. Before I forget, Ladies night on Wednesdays at Sins Gastrobar is also a must. Free Margaritas until close! In between all of that, I’d definitely recommend karaoke.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Before anything, I have to thank God for all he’s done in my life. Really and truly he deserves all the credit. However, I also have to thank my loved ones, anyone who has ever supported myself and my endeavors, and the following organizations that have contributed to my growth in mental health advocacy: -NAMI Broward (National Alliance on Mental illness) -NATCO (National Council for Behavioral health) -AFSP Southeast FL (American Foundation for Suicide prevention)