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Wait…What?! BIPOC Women and Mental Health Recording

“Wait…What?!” is a platform for candid discussion for the Women’s Fund community to convene on emerging issues we all face, albeit with varied challenges.

Over the summer, conversations emerged about women of color and mental health. Athletes Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka chose to withdraw from competitions to address their own mental health issues. We wanted to continue the conversation, particularly with local women of color mental health providers.

This October Wait…What?! includes:

  • The importance of seeking services and integrating mental health and self-care into a regular routine;
  • Connections between generational trauma, grief and loss, carrying multiple responsibilities (including work and caregiving of others), anxiety, and depression;
  • How to support others through their mental health and wellness journey;
  • Insight on local resources specifically for BIPOC women and gender diverse folks;
  • Barriers to seeking access to care including systemic oppression and concern for communal and familial shame.

Meet the guest speakers

Whitney Dodds

As an accomplished therapist, workshop facilitator, panelist, board member, and author, Whitney Dodds is on a mission to shift the narrative of mental healthcare in black and brown communities, creating pathways for access and cultivating conversations to dismantle and eradicate the stigma around mental health. She is a sought-after speaker, counselor, and podcast guest, specializing in empowering women and youth, and uplifting communities of color.

Whitney is the Founder and CEO of the Wellness for the Culture Mental Health Organization. Under this umbrella is a growing mental health practice located in the heart of Springfield, MA, the “One Day You Will Live” Scholarship Foundation, and the Cultural Wellness Network Association, a collective of black and brown counselors in Massachusetts. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (MA) and a Licensed Professional Counselor (CT), with a passion for addressing issues of inequity in access and quality of care in underserved communities. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from American International College, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

With over five years of counseling experience, Whitney committed to showing that in the struggle for equity, “representation is half the battle,” and that “we don’t have to lose our culture to choose our careers or communities – Black is professional.” Her mission is to be part of a resilient, inclusive, and sustainable ecosystem of service providers who offer both professional services, as well as hosting and curating culturally relevant events and learning opportunities for communities that need it most.

Ysabel Garcia

A suicide prevention and social justice educator, Ysabel Garcia, MPH, founded Estoy Aqui LLC, an educational initiative focused on the sociocultural factors contributing to suicide risk in Latino/Latinx and Black communities via training, dialogue, and workshops. Garcia’s experience as a first-generation Dominican immigrant, as well as her lived experience as a former psychiatric patient, has influenced her work to dismantle the myths and sanism surrounding mental health and suicide. She often advocates for community care alternatives and peer support methods as viable resources for mental health support. Specifically, her outreach program, La Cultura Sana, offers skills-based dialogues addressing suicide and mental health to key figures in the Latino/x and Black community that provide emotional support as part of their day-to-day work or social roles.

Jenise Katalina

Jenise Katalina is the Vice President of the Board of Directors and Co-Executive Director for the Women of Color Health Equity Collective, a movement-building nonprofit organization based out of Western Massachusetts that is focused on supporting women and girls of color achieving their optimal health and well-being. Jenise is also the Healthy Families Resource Specialist at the Children’s Trust, a statewide agency focused on stopping child abuse in Massachusetts. In this role, she provides training and technical assistance to program management in home visiting programs across the state with a focus on implementing policies and practice with a racial equity lens.

Before joining the Children’s Trust, Jenise served as the Vice President of Family Services at Square One, a community-based non-profit in Springfield, Massachusetts. She joined the Square One team in September of 2011 as a Healthy Families Home Visitor and quickly excelled through multiple managerial positions. Jenise’s prior experience includes management roles within residential programs for latency-age children and gang aversion programs for teen youth in Springfield.

Jenise received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Westfield State University and her Master of Social Work degree from Springfield College. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Massachusetts and a certified trainer in multiple trauma-focused models, specifically focusing on multi-generational families. She has studied under the founders of the Culturally Humility Framework and has offered technical assistance and training to multiple institutions striving to incorporate a Racial Equity lens into their institution.

Watch the previous Wait…What?! on Racial Disparities in Maternal Health Recording

Wait…What?! Racial Disparities in Maternal Health Recording