Updated: Feb 25, 2021
Black Mental Wellness Intern
Jasmin Brooks was raised in Atlanta, GA. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) and her Master’s in Psychology from the University of Houston. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Houston.
As a Black female who spent much of her life in predominantly White communities, she has always been aware of her racial identity. She vividly remembers as a eight-year-old girl, the smell of her burning hair as she tried to straighten her curls to fit in with her classmates. She remembers hearing the label “oreo” from other Black students in her class, and feeling as if among all communities her race determined her identity. At the age of eight, she did not have the vocabulary to articulate the power of the social construction of race, but she knew that she was different and felt inferior because of it.
Upon enrolling at the UNC, she reflected back on that memory and became invested in exploring how race shapes the lives of other Black Americans. She actively sought the role of advisor and mentor to at-risk youth and young adults, leading sessions that provided academic and social skills to Black residents of a local juvenile detention center, encouraging and empowering persons of color from local high schools to attend college, and facilitating the successful emotional, social, and academic transition of freshman students to UNC Chapel Hill through serving as their Resident Advisor. Through these experiences, she began to witness the direct impact of poverty and racism on learning, self-esteem, and resiliency among vulnerable populations. As a result, Jasmin’s dream and passion to foster resiliency, strength, and liberation among Black people and underserved communities was born.
In an effort to follow her passion, she began her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology focusing on examining risk and resilience factors of suicide and internalizing mental health disorders among Black Americans. She aspires to translate her research into culturally-relevant interventions that can be implemented to better meet the mental health needs of Black people and other vulnerable communities.
In her spare time, Jasmin enjoys traveling, spending time with loved ones, and playing sports. She loves exploring new activities, meeting new people, and reading!
What does Black Mental Wellness mean to you?
Black Mental Wellness to me means providing Black people with the resources, tools, and strategies necessary to achieve positive physical, mental, emotional, social, and economic well-being. In order to achieve this goal, Black Mental Wellness encompasses investing in fostering resiliency, strength, and liberation among our Black brothers and sisters. It means normalizing conversations surrounding mental health and increasing mental health access and awareness in Black communities. It means creating more culturally-relevant mental health interventions and increasing the cultural competency of our mental health providers so that we can better meet the needs of Black people.
What are some ways that you promote mental health and wellness through your area of expertise?
In addition to the experiences during my undergraduate education that I mentioned above, during my time in graduate school I have centered my research on investigating risk and resilience factors related to suicide and mental health among Black populations. Also, as a Doctoral Student, I provide therapy in various clinical settings to individuals from predominantly low-income and underserved communities. I became a volunteer at the Adolescent Suicide Prevention Coalition, which is a non-profit geared towards implementing evidence-based approaches to decrease depression, trauma, and suicide among youth from underserved communities in Houston, TX. I was a founding member of the UH Clinical Psychology Diversity Committee, and co-Chair for Diversity Day which centered on leading activities that challenged bias, raised awareness of privilege, and discussed how to incorporate cultural competency in research and therapy for UH Clinical Doctoral students and faculty. Lastly, I am a founding member of Training Every Athletes Mindset (T.E.A.M. Mentorship Program), an organization that provides fourth- and fifth-year student athletes with mental health resources, academic support, professional advancement, identity development, and career counseling to help transition to life after sports. T.E.A.M. has just recently launched in October 2020.
How can we encourage more people to seek mental health treatment?
I think the first step is to acknowledge that its okay to not be okay. Sometimes we do feel sadness, anxiety, or grief, and we must normalize these feelings as well as saying “we need help.” A big part of this to me is raising awareness of what positive and negative mental well-being looks like through science communication, social media, and leading mental health workshops in our community. Another important step is increasing the cultural competency of our mental health providers as well as access to mental health services. We need to make sure that therapists have the expertise necessary to see individuals from different backgrounds, and that therapists are aware of cultural values (e.g., spirituality, community) and barriers to treatment (e.g., stigma) that can influence treatment efficacy.
Jasmin Brooks is a doctoral student in clinical psychology, who’s undying passion is to promote the health and well-being of Black people and other marginalized communities. She aims to dedicate her career to creating culturally-relevant interventions that target the effects of racial trauma and race-related stress on the mental health of Black populations. She looks forward to empowering underserved youth, adults, and families to embrace their best self, actualize their dreams, and achieve mental wellness.