Mental Health Champions: Why & How Temi Ayodeji of Temi Fine Arts Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness

Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine
Published in
16 min readAug 3, 2022


I enjoy reading. I listen to audiobooks during the day or whenever I want to chill and be submerged in a new world without leaving my location. For example, I love listening to my audiobooks when I travel long distances. This is something I’m engaged in a lot more this summer. Traveling by road and driving, in general, can be exhausting and stressful to some people. As for me, it’s not, and I enjoy it.

As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Temi Ayodeji.

Temi is a professional artist, Amazon #1 Best-Selling Author, Certified Stress Management Coach, and Academic Motivational Speaker. She uses her science-based stress-reducing paintings plus coaching to help high-achieving professionals, their businesses, and special needs families reduce their stress & overwhelm so they can improve their performance, productivity, and profitability.

Temi’s book, “The Art of Autism — A Pictorial Guide for Parents of Children with Special Needs,” is an Amazon #1 best seller. As a Motivational Speaker, Temi uses her “Get a Grip” presentation to teach high school students the skills to navigate stress to improve their overall academic, social, and emotional success in prep for college.

Temi is married and is a mother of two boys, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum. Temi currently lives in Alabama with her husband and two sons. Her paintings can be seen at The Heersink Health Science Building at Wallace Community College, Health Center South and other business establishments in the WIregrass area. Temi has been featured on ABC, CBS, CW, Secret Knock for Women, and The Dothan Eagle. She has also been a guest on many podcasts such as Brenda Warren’s “Talk To Me,” Edvard Vondra’s “Branding & Positioning,” Dr. Erica Harris’s “Rise Today,” Lori Marini’s “CCCW Podcast, and much more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers want to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I grew up in a Nigerian household with three younger brothers. I was born in Nigeria and, shortly after that, relocated with my mom to Canada to join my dad. When I was five, we moved to the United States, and when I turned 8 ½, we returned to Nigeria for what was supposed to be a two-week trip. It turned out to be a 10-year vacation! It was a rude awakening, but I am forever grateful to my parents for the ten years I spent in my motherland. I benefited from learning about my culture, our dialect (Yoruba), and traditions organically. I’m forever grateful.

My parents pushed for excellence, so I graduated high school when I was 15. By the time I was 29 and married, I had obtained 4 degrees in Art & Design, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Psychology, and an MSc. in Human Resources Management. Despite growing up in a strict household, life was good, and I thank God for the years I spent in Nigeria. Those years served as the foundation of who I am today. The act of love and respect for everyone, irrespective of their status or socioeconomic background, was essential to my parents. I appreciate everything they did for my brothers and me. They’re the best.

You are currently leading a social impact organization that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?

I am all about Stress Reduction and helping people live a stress-reduced lifestyle. Through my company, Temi Art LLC, I can promote mental wellness in communities with an emphasis on assisting Autism families, caregivers, healthcare practitioners, and their patients. This mission is personal because I am an autism mom & caregiver, a former spousal caregiver & healthcare practitioner, and my husband is a physician. I have experienced the harmful effects of stress on my health and relationships. I’ve experienced how mismanagement of stress or ignoring it altogether can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, substance abuse, and more.

I use multiple avenues to help promote mental wellness to the clients, groups, and institutions I serve. Today, I help my clients reduce stress by incorporating my science-based stress-reducing paintings into their environment and personalized stress reduction coaching using my Power Over Stress System. These paintings are available in ready-to-hang prints and originals via my online gallery, The personalized coaching lasts 4–6 weeks. Upon completion, my clients are equipped with the tools to effectively approach stress, change their lifestyle, and maintain their mental wellness.

I also provide stress reduction education via my ‘Get A Grip Presentation” to high school students, emphasizing how to identify possible signs & symptoms of stress plus how to combat the common causes of stress in college. This presentation is given to high school juniors and seniors preparing for college. I have realized that mental health services are available to college students, but over 80% of them report increased stress despite these services because most students cannot identify the tell-tale signs of stress until it’s too late. Furthermore, many don’t have the time to access the services. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to speak to high school students about stress to maintain their mental wellness.

Finally, I can provide stress management education via my Amazon #1 Best-Seller, “The Art of Autism — A Pictorial Guide for Parents of Children with Special Needs.” This book is available as an ebook, paperback, and hardcover copy.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

Sure. When my younger son was three years old, he suddenly and mysteriously lost his ability to speak and quickly started showing signs of Autism. I share more about this and our successful journey in my book, “The Art of Autism — A Pictorial Guide for Parents of Children with Special Needs.” A couple of years after his diagnosis, I decided to spend more time with him and use my skills as an Occupational Therapy Assistant to help him regain some of the skills he had lost.

Fortunately, as a result of lots of prayers and intense therapies that were both conventional and non-conventional, my son made a lot of improvements within a few years. Despite these improvements, my son still needed help with “focusing and concentrating” during our homeschooling sessions.

So, I researched and stumbled upon various articles on the relationship between Art and psychology. I was particularly fascinated by the reports that mentioned how specific fractal images could reduce stress levels by up to 60% within the first minute of looking at the painting.

As an artist, I proceeded to create several abstract paintings embedded with these unique fractal images and strategically positioned them in our home. A couple of months later, a friend called my attention to my son not being easily distracted while reading. That was when it dawned on me that it was the Art! I also realized my husband’s stress levels had declined too. The transformation in my son and husband has fueled my passion.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

To answer this question, I have to go back and talk about my dear friend, Jeremy. He was the first to notice my son’s improvement. He loved the images I created for the calming effects and encouraged me to consider selling my Art. I shared Jeremy’s feedback with my husband, and he agreed. However, my husband suggested I pray about it, and he would support my decision. After praying over it for a couple of days, I knew I was ready, but I wasn’t sure if other people would like my work. My purpose for painting was not to sell my work. It was to help my son on the spectrum, and thankfully, the images helped him and my husband reduce his stress. I pondered for a while, wondering if “the public” would appreciate my paintings and if they would evoke the same emotions and feelings they did in my husband, Jeremy, and my sons. Fortunately, my prayers were soon answered when I experienced my “Aha Moment” a couple of weeks later.

We had a few friends stop by to see our new home. Upon arrival, our guests and my husband spent more time in the foyer talking about my “new collection.” They were unaware that I was an artist before becoming a therapist, nor did they know I had created all the paintings they were viewing. My original paintings were never signed on the front. They were all signed on the back deliberately. They all agreed that the images were “different, unique, and calming.” I needed to hear their feedback, and later that evening, one of our guests asked to buy one particular painting directly off the wall. He connected with it! It was then I knew that it was time to take the leap of faith in myself as a stress-reducing artist and in my future as an entrepreneur. That was my “Aha Moment.”

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

A couple of years ago, I had some of my paintings displayed at a local coffee shop where I live. My pieces were on display at the coffee shop for about eight weeks, and the day before I had to pick up my artwork, I decided to have lunch with a couple of friends at the cafe.

While chatting, a young girl approached our table and asked, “Please, ma’am, are you Temi, the featured artist?” I confirm that it was me because my hairstyle was very different from the poster on display at the cafe. The young girl asked, “I think I saw one of your paintings at Wallace. Do you have a painting at Wallace?” I was pleasantly surprised by her question because it was true. I did have a painting on display at our local Wallace Community College, but this painting was not signed on the front.

I was stunned by her first sentence because the painting at the school was very different in style and technique from the paintings at the cafe. Furthermore, my business was less than two years old at the time. I didn’t believe I was that popular. After describing it in detail, I told the young lady it was my painting. She told me that the piece in the school was “unique and calming,” just like the paintings at the cafe! I thanked her for her feedback and for loving my Art. She ended up thanking me for sharing my talent. That was an extraordinary moment that I’ll never forget.

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Every day, I thank God for my husband, Akin. He has been my cheerleader and #1 supporter. Other people I’d like to mention are Isis Djata, Dhomonique Murphy, and my very dear friend — Art Director and Visual Designer Jeremy Danzie. He is the one who lit the fire in me and encouraged me to start selling my painting. He helped me design my first logo, which I have since redesigned on my own, and he took all the pictures of my pieces and some of me to start my branding. Jeremy played a pivotal role in the beginning and supported me by recently acquiring one of my paintings for his collection. He continues to help me to this day and never seizes to show his love and admiration for my son and family throughout our journey.

According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?

I believe that the stigma about mental health results from people’s ignorance, prejudices, unwillingness to understand mental illness, the lack of acceptance of people with mental illness, and the media’s misleading representation of the various mental illnesses. Unfortunately, many people with mental illnesses face discrimination of several types daily. People with mental illnesses tend to fear disclosing the truth about their disease to their co-workers or employers due to discrimination that may include being overlooked for promotions or advancements within the department, seclusion by co-workers or management, and potential abuse at the workplace.

Unfortunately, this stigma about mental illness extends beyond the workplace. Many individuals experience the same level, if not worse, discrimination, isolation, and neglect from their family members. Preconceived notions and prejudices that people have hinder family relationships. Regardless of where the stigmas come from, they are wrong and unfair, and I evidence that our society needs to be well educated about the truth of mental illness. More importantly, Society needs to be aware that many people have mental illness diagnoses but live successful and productive lives. A mental health diagnosis does not mean an individual should be written off. All it means is that they will need access to Mental Health Services whenever they need assistance.

In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?

a) Individuals need to educate themselves by asking questions and conducting research by reading medical journals and related materials. When we ask questions of those we know who have shared their mental illnesses or from their families, we can better understand and increase our awareness of the challenges and plots they go through every day. I also believe that we as individuals need to be more compassionate, understanding, formed, and accepting of people with mental illnesses.

As a mother of a child on the autism spectrum, I have noticed that many people are aware of Autism and some of the traits that children on the Spectrum display. However, most people are unaware that children on the spectrum may have additional diagnoses on top of the autism diagnosis. Two-thirds of children on the autism spectrum have a dual diagnosis. All that means is that in addition to the autism diagnosis, they may have a different diagnosis that may include a d h d, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and so much more. Because of this understanding, I realize that I can never, and no one should ever, approach any child on the spectrum with a mindset of assuming that the children will act in specific ways. Although no two kids on the spectrum are the same, I need to know that that child or adult may have a dual diagnosis. As a result, I treat everyone with the same respect, understanding, compassion, and acceptance I believe my son deserves. We all need an open heart and know that mental health exists. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it is nothing that people should be condemned for. It is our job and responsibility to fight for those with mental illness because if the shoe were on the other foot, we don’t want people to fight for us.

b) Society: Society is all of us as individuals combined. The only difference is the more significant we are as a group, the more we become a force to be reckoned with. As a society, when we come together to focus on issues such as mental health, we can make profound changes that affect everyone. As a society, we can make the decision-makers in the government accountable for their actions, or lack thereof, as it relates to mental health issues, especially towards access to the best treatment. As a society, we can’t just settle for anything mediocre when it comes to safety and security. So, why pay for mediocre healthcare when it comes to mental health.

We, as a society, always need to approach the issue of mental health as though it was what people are fighting for. With that mindset, we will do all it takes to support those members of society who fight for themselves or have no idea where to begin. As a mother to a child on the Autism spectrum, I am his Advocate, but I don’t limit myself to my son. I encourage other parents to never settle for less regarding their kids and be informed. We don’t make the right choices or decisions when we are ill-informed. Mental health involves everyone. Nobody should see themselves as immune to it. We will have healthier, stronger communities if we all know how to care for our emotional, physical, and psychological well-being and access the tools and resources to get the desired results.

There are many people with mental illness diagnoses, and they live happy, healthy, productive lives. When you have information about one’s diagnosis shouldn’t be an unjust reason to deny them services or opportunities. Many people with mental illnesses do not show the signs and symptoms, but we should be supportive, empathetic, understanding, compassionate, and accepting the moment they occur.

The last point I want to mention is something I have said in close circles. Some people reading this article may not agree with me, but we live in a free society, and we’re all entitled to their opinions. However, I challenge those people who laugh at jokes about someone suffering from a mental illness. I challenge those who make these jokes. I ask, “Why?” and “Would you find it funny if someone laughed at a joke that describes the pain you are feeling for a loved one?” I get it, but I say it’s better to use your struggles as material, and while you are at it, share with your audience how you overcame them. That way, you’re helping your audience see and believe that hope isn’t lost. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

c) The Government: In my experience, the government can better support people with mental illness by ensuring that our kids have access to mental health services in their schools by licensed mental health professionals. Unfortunately, most public schools have only one school counselor on staff. That’s not ideal under any circumstance. Such working conditions quickly lead to burnout for the counselor, and at-risk kids fall through the cracks. With increased school funding by the government specifically to attract and hire more licensed mental health professionals for the schools, there should be a reduction in the overall mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges children experience, especially those at-risk.

What are the 5 strategies you use to promote your own well-being and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?

1st- I enjoy reading. I listen to audiobooks during the day or whenever I want to chill and be submerged in a new world without leaving my location. For example, I love listening to my audiobooks when I travel long distances. This is something I’m engaged in a lot more this summer. Traveling by road and driving, in general, can be exhausting and stressful to some people. As for me, it’s not, and I enjoy it.

2nd- I listen to music and surround myself with it. Whether in my car or on my cell phone, it doesn’t matter. I have a variety of albums I’ve created so that I can remain balanced during an activity/task that could be stressful to most people. For example, I’m currently moving my whole family to another city over two hours away. While packing and sorting, I have my music on to while away the time and enjoy the task.

3rd- I hang out with my friends once or every other week, depending on my schedule. For several years, my sons had my undivided attention. I was a mom, caregiver to my son and husband, cleaner, transporter, cook, and everything & anything for my family. I had little or no time designated to “Moi.” Now, things are different. I now nurture my friendships and treat myself to a few hours of fun, laughter, and craziness with my girlfriends. It’s a time to unwind, update, and support one another. Sometimes, we get to help the people we meet at our outings. Those are the best because they become opportunities to make an impact organically.

4th- I take the occasional power nap whenever necessary, especially 15–30 minute power naps in the afternoons. I listen to my body and allow it to rest, if not for a short time. Each time I wake up from my power naps, I’m more alert and have a boost of energy. It’s like taking a shot of espresso without the caffeine.

5th- I watch movies, and most of the time, it’s with my husband in the evenings before bedtime. I refer to it as a “laid-back date night.” I firmly believe nourishing my relationships at home is just as important as my health. Engaging in these daily movie nights creates the opportunity to bond, have fun, relax, and not worry about anything. It’s an activity that is beneficial to everyone who participates.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?

Since my son was diagnosed with Autism, I have become his Advocate. Over the years, as he’s grown and made improvements in several areas, I continue to be his Advocate, especially now that he’s a teenager and I need to educate the people around our community and us on the challenges children on the Autism spectrum face as it relates to mental health awareness. I have read several books over the years about autism and Autism Awareness. But today, I Champion autism acceptance and our communities. I read books and occasionally listen to podcasts whenever time permits to see other people’s perspectives and how our world is evolving regarding mental health.

If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Most people would say you should chase money, fame, or Fortune whenever you’re starting something new. All those things may sound good, but making an impact in the lives of those you surround, your community, and society as a whole color is more fulfilling. When you realize that your actions or struggles, which have turned into Triumphs and stories, impact the lives of people who hear you, you have a feeling of gratitude for those experiences that were once difficult. When people tell you that your story or your actions have impacted them to a point where they too have experienced transformations or changes, it is for feeling. In anything you do, think about being a blessing to those around you. Also, think about being a blessing to those you do not know and will never learn, but their life would never change if not for you.

How can our readers follow you online?

Your readers can follow me on:



My online Art gallery:

My website: or

Follow & like me on Youtube:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!



Yitzi Weiner
Authority Magazine

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator