Jill D. Mays – Ezer Counseling, LLC

by Terry Watson | September 19th, 2019
Jill D. Mays

Jill D. Mays

Jill D. Mays is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 25 years of experience in the behavioral health field. She has been recognized by Atlanta Magazine along with former Atlanta Mayor, Shirley Franklin, news anchor Monica Kaufman Pearson, and a list of other notable women who are making a mark in the world.

Jill’s passion for helping others has led her to dedicate most of her career to developing and leading successful clinical and service provision programs, especially for women and children, in Atlanta, and throughout the United States. Springing out of her own lived experience and that of close family members and friends, Jill is committed to serving as a strong advocate for the unique behavioral health needs of women, and people of color.

Currently, Jill manages a small, but successful private practice, Ezer Counseling, LLC, in Stone Mountain, GA, Ezer Counseling specializes in addressing women’s issues, including infertility, mood disorders, substance use, grief, life stage transitions, and marital/pre-marital/relationship counseling. “While I serve a highly diverse clientele, my typical clients are African American women and married couples. Ezer Counseling is fully committed to the principles of cultural competency and cultural humility. My couch is a welcoming spot for anyone who seeks services, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, creed, gender, gender expression, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or occupational status,” she states.

By definition, the word Ezer means to help or support. It can also refer to a helper or one who assists and serves another with what is needed. Ezer is also a Hebrew word that is found in the Holy Bible, in the book of Genesis (2:18 -20), and used in the Old Testament in the context of vitally important and powerful acts of rescue and support. The tagline for Ezer Counseling, “Right Beside You with Help, Hope, and Healing” Jill says is rooted in this perspective.

“I intentionally offer primarily evening and weekend appointments because many people can’t afford to miss work or school to come to counseling,” Jill says. “Most providers don’t see clients after 5:00 pm. With our schedule, we can add some flexibility in availability. Our out-of-pocket fees are set lower than a lot of other therapists in the metro Atlanta area to assist those who don’t have health insurance, coupled with the challenge of paying traditional self-pay rates.”

Furthermore, Jill acknowledges the stigma that exists with people of color not getting help with addressing mental health and substance use disorders. In her role, she wanted to take away at least a few barriers to help people engage more. “My job is to provide a caring, safe environment for clients to begin healing, and to give them the tools and techniques to understand their own thoughts and emotions, and where these are coming from. By doing so, they will be able to come to their own conclusions about what to do with their life, and ultimately achieve a more balanced and fulfilling lifestyle. My special blend of cognitive behavioral therapy and strengths-based eclectic techniques help guide and inspire clients to achieve more of their personal and professional goals,” she says.

Jill is currently the Director of the Office of Federal Grant Programs and Cultural & Linguistic Competency at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD). There she oversees the development and implementation of DBHDD’s cultural and linguistic competency framework. She was instrumental in launching the state’s highly successful Forensic Peer Mentor Program, which allows men and women who have experienced a mental illness and been involved with the criminal justice system, to go back into the prisons and provide encouragement and transition assistance to other returning citizens.
Jill has also served as Director of Women & Children’s Services for Atlanta Mission for nearly 15 years, and as Regional Outreach & Resource Development Coordinator for the Disaster Distress Helpline. In that role, she helped to establish the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health services Administration’s (SAMHSA) first-ever 24/7 crisis hotline and texting service for anyone in the US experiencing emotional distress related to a natural or man-made disaster.

Jill is a highly sought-after consultant and trainer in the areas of general and women’s behavioral health services, jail diversion, trauma, homeless services, disaster mental health, behavioral health/trauma awareness and stigma reduction for law enforcement, as well as marriage enrichment, and a variety of Christian topics. Jill also has extensive federal level training experience, including diversity workshops for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and crisis counseling programs for FEMA and SAMHSA.

When asked what she loves most about her profession, Jill shares that it’s the look on a client’s face after the “aha” moment arrives, and they finally figure out an answer to a question they’ve been struggling with for years. “I love it when a couple who has been estranged for months finally remembers what they loved about each other and are able to forgive, heal, and reconcile,” she says. “I also love teaching, training, and mentoring. One of my bucket-list experiences is to be a college professor. I have a strong desire to educate, persuade, and lead others for their benefit.”

Jill’s life has been greatly impacted by her parents, Reverend Charles and the late First Lady Ruth Duncan. Her father is a Baptist Pastor, and while growing up Jill watched her parents model the importance of following God’s calling to serve, teach, and love those in need. “At 87, my Daddy is still one of the hardest working and committed people I know. I learned a valuable work ethic from him,” she says. She also credits her family for being the foundation for her career. “Ezer Counseling wouldn’t exist without my husband and my children. My husband and I got married five months before I graduated with my master’s in counseling from Georgia State, and he’s been there for this whole journey. I always want them to know how much I appreciate their love and support. I’m grateful for the privilege of being called ‘Mom’.”

Whatever the future has in store for Jill and Ezer counseling, one thing is for sure is that her love for others and her desire to help will not change. Coming in October, she will be starting GōWLUp! (pronounced “Goal Up”), which stands for “Godly Wives Looking Up”, a Coaching & Connecting Meetup. Scheduled to meet on the first Friday of the month, the group will explore various topics such as hot and healthy relationships, conflict resolution, communication, respect, intimacy, skill-building, cooking demonstrations, massage techniques, parenting tips, home décor and more. She is also narrowing down topics and genre for a book(s) she plans to author.

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