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This week on BeREAL, Diana and Ednesha are joined by Jessica Perez to continue the discussion on Minority Mental Health Month. Jessica is here to discuss the mental health counseling experience of the Latinx community.
Jessica B Perez, Latina from North Philadelphia. Jessica received her MSW in NYC where she started her career in Social work working with families from Lower East side Manhattan and Bedsty Brooklyn. Jessica moved back to Philadelphia,PA to continue her work in the predominantly Latinx/Hispanic community by managing an at-risk youth program funded by the city of Philadelphia providing supportive and therapy services. In addition, she continued to provide individual and family therapy through mobile services. Currently, she is a Licensed School Social Worker in Camden Nj working with Latinx/Hispanic and Black children in the Charter School system. Jessica is committed to the practice as a school social worker and works with children and families as a certified trauma clinician. She is passionate about her K-8th grade students and contributing to designing and implementing systems within the school system and community to promote mental health and link resources to overcome barriers which limit the success of disadvantaged families.
Jessica begins the episode by answering a few questions from Ednesha. Ednesha is interested in knowing what it is like to work in a therapy practice in Camden, NJ, which was once deemed the most dangerous city in the state. Jessica explains how many social work initiatives by the local government have helped re-envision Camden in a new, prosperous light. She tells of her own experience as a school counselor in the area, and the change she witnessed in her students/patients.
The conversation then shifts to focus on the Latinx community and mental health. Jessica elaborates on the different barriers that deter Latinx people from seeking therapy. One issue she highlights is the fear of deportation. The fear that federal institutions, such as ICE, have instilled in Jessica’s community has created a mentality that they must solve all their issues on their own, because seeking help may lead to catastrophic consequences.
Jessica then offers advice for non-Latinx therapists on how to create a safe space for Latinx clients. An overarching theme in her advice is diversification. The mental health field needs to diversify in multiple ways; more practices must hire Latinx clinicians, more therapists must speak a Latinx language, and more therapists must have knowledges of the great diversity within the term “Latinx.” The label “Latinx” does not refer to one culture or people, but numerous different communities that have their own beliefs, values, and customs.
Your hosts finish off the episode by examining the possible mental health implications of online learning in Fall 2020, due to COVID-19. They offer advice on what parents and teachers should look out for, and ways to make online learning exist within an environment that promotes positive mental health.
Thank you so much for tuning into BeREAL this week! We look forward to having you with us next week, but in the meantime, remember to catch last week’s episode on Black men and mental health if you haven’t already.
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