TN Voices COO Will Voss talks with Jasmine Taylor-McHaney about how lived experience prepares many of those who work in the mental health field to help their clients and their families. They explore the contributions that fresh, new perspectives offer in the scope of everything TN Voices does.
and it is a podcast of Tennessee voices about mental health, featuring stories of people who have overcome mental health challenges, as well as those who have helped people overcome mental health challenges. This podcast is about authenticity. And it's intended to give a voice to those who are passionate about mental well being. We hope that by sharing stories, listeners understand mental health and just how important it is in our day to day lives, and they will help us reduce stigma. We want you to know that so many who have struggled with mental health can and did overcome their challenges. And if you are struggling, you can too. I'm your host, Ricky Harris, CEO, Tennessee voices. And with me as my favorite co host, Wilbur Ross, CEO of Tennessee voices. Welcome to our podcast. Let's get candid.Unknown:
It is. So thank you. Thank you so much for joining me today. For our can did podcast segment. Jasmine is currently a therapist here in our outpatient therapy program, providing support to all ages, individuals who are seeking therapy there in the moment. So Jasmine, tell me a little bit about your background, kind of what brought you into the field? Yeah, so I started with my undergraduate in 2015, at MTSU, in social work, and then I started my internship in 2018 at Tennessee voices. So that was my first time being in the field. I've always wanted to help people. So that's always my passion. And I started out with program development, not working one on one. So it's a big change for me to be here now, as a therapist, graduated with my master's in 2020. So last year, fresh out and working with individuals has been great. It's been very exciting and something new every day. So I've loved that. And just getting to help people. One thing we always talk about is what your why's and helping people figure out what there was so fun to me. It makes me feel like I have purpose. So that's kind of why I'm here. Awesome. It is great to hear. Yes, you started with us back in 2018. Time is flying. So talk to me a little bit about what it was like coming in as an intern in 2018. To becoming staff and leaving returning now you're back with us what has it been like working for Tennessee voices or being connected with NZ voices over the past three years? It's been so exciting. I think the first time I came here, like my first week here, I was so nervous, like what to expect program professional development versus personal development, can I be myself in the workplace those things. And it was a journey, let's just say that, um, to get in to be comfortable. And knowing that I'm in a place where I'm accepted is huge for me. And I've always felt that Tennessee voices. The youth voice is something that we've always pushed and just like being able to be heard no matter what your ages or what your category you fall into is. And so inclusion has been huge for me here, just feeling like I'm a part of a whole or a system that's doing something positive has been great. And then like the transition from being an intern to being an employee, even better, right like getting to know that I have a voice and kind of kind of developed me developing my own personality and in this has been great. And I definitely for four months. And it was one of those experiences like you have to go out there. Sometimes they kind of see what what you need or what you don't have or what you already have. And I learned very quickly, I had all the things I needed all the tools I needed and that I was where I was supposed to be. And sometimes money is not is not the reason to like go out there and try to better yourself. So I came back and I plan to stay. And it's just been one of those things where like I said, my voice being heard is one thing but taking a step further and asked him well what can we do with the things that you need? Once you tell someone what you need, you have to be positive in that and confident in that. And that's one thing that you have taught me like confidence is key when you ask for something know what you're asking for. And what does that look like for you? So I think that I think professionally, my voice has been developed here in the most positive way that it could be. You mentioned voice a lot in what you just said. So how as an agency, I guess how has that been? And the opportunity been awarded to you. So here we have our tagline firsthand experiences, right. And I think that, at first coming in, it was very uncomfortable for me to talk about my own experiences. Like, that's separate, you know, I'm a professional here. And I quickly learned that those things emerge so fast, and that to kind of get to get across to your clients or to reach them, sometimes you have to take off that therapists hat and say, Hey, I'm a human. And this experience that we're having here is a human experience. And yes, I am here in a position of power to help you but that power really means nothing because you're in charge, and we have to meet you where you're at. And so using my voice to empower others through knowing that I've had experiences similar to them. And knowing that just because I'm a therapist, doesn't mean I'm that much removed from what mental health looks like, and how it can affect you as a person. So just kind of, I think Ricky sent out a motivation to this morning talking about humility. And I think about that a lot in my own life, like, the word grace is big for me, like, what do you extend to others when you need, you know, when they need it most? And then vice versa? Where are you giving out, you know, for those people who need things. So just being me through and through something that I have done with my voice, and I think that's been accepted here and also appreciated? That is good to hear. always rewarding. And, you know, we talk a lot as an agency, we are Tennessee voices, right? People think we're out in the community. I know, in the past, they thought we were a singing group. No, we use our voices in different ways we advocate how is it that? Or I guess, to reframe the question, how would you encourage someone to be able to use their voice? I mean, you talked a lot about, you know, we mentioned youth voice and coming in as an intern. And three years later, you're still using your voice in a therapeutic setting? How would you encourage someone else to use their voice? So I think something that David and I talk about a lot, which is my clinical supervisor, to see voices clinical supervisor, he often pairs voice with choice. So what does that look like? You know, giving someone the power to use our voice is one thing, but I think that, like real advocacy is telling them the ways to use it. Right? So you already had the tool to begin with, you've always had your voice, but often presented as from zero to 18, we're told what we can do basically, right, like, we have these rules that we have to follow, we have fine lines, some of those are in our control, and some of them aren't. Right. So what can we do with that after that 18 age, we start getting a little bit more choice. But you know, from that time that zero to 18, it's very, this or that, right? So kind of learning what it looks like when you don't have it this or that option, when you have to create your own this or that. And realizing what power that like that gives you a gives a person it's empowering. And it's also kind of scary, right? When you're the person in power. It's like, oh, no, what's happened? What can I do with that? So, you know, just giving them tools to say, Hey, you are capable. You might have had your voice, you know, muted before, but it's okay. Like, we can work past that. And just giving people confidence. Again, I think I struggle with that sometimes just fear is a big emotion. For me, it drives me often I have anxiety, I talk about it all the time. And so, you know, giving that power in my life, what does that look like? Do I want it to be louder than my own voice? No, of course not. So just you know, reminding people that there are things that are going to kind of be obstacles, but you still can use your voice and how does that look for you? That's good. And you talk a lot about you go from your professional standpoint to letting people know, yeah, you're still human, you're a therapist, and you're still human. These are things that I struggle with, which is awesome thing that continues to show your humility. You mentioned just a minute ago, that fear is something you know, sometimes it creeps up on you, and you continue to still move forward and push forward. There are a lot of people that we're hoping to reach in these podcasts and are going to be experiencing a lot of not only what Rick and I are talking about, but what every guest that comes on this show and mentions as well. So there's someone out there that's listening right now and that fear is something that they can relate to. How would you encourage you know what something that you yourself used to continue to push forward at times? What would you tell someone else's list I always tell my clients fear is a chameleon emotion. So we look at chameleons and they they respond to the stimulus is in their environment. So if they're scared, which typically what happens whenever they change emotion, they match their environment so you can't see them anymore, right? So I'll talk about that a lot like how Fear driving you and your life? And how does that look like? When do you change colors? When do you act like something you're not right. And so with that, I always let them know the only time that we should talk about what ifs is, if we're going to be a scientist. Sometimes they like that sometimes they don't. But 5050 is something that can drive your life, right? Like, well, it could go this way, or it could go that way. So always say, you know, put, put your hope in the good things, and do work around that. Put your hope in the good things that can happen and hope that that does come through and come to fruition. I'll give you the tools, I'll give you the support, I'll be someone you can count on our model that for you. And we'll work through that together. So I always tell people, you're not alone. Fear is something that is going to always be present. And we have to figure out what what ways can we come? What can we come overcome those fears that we do have? So it's good, and it's good. You probably just helped a lot of people moving forward. Yeah, I'm being serious about being serious. Even here three years, and you have seen a lot of change, change and staff, change in leadership in different levels. And you also were here during pandemic, while we were trying to figure out what does this look like? How do we still provide services. And you also were here, as we talked about racial inequality, things going on in the world, you decided to join the cultural diversity, diversity and inclusion committee. You brought a very, very, very great perspective. You also were part of that planning committee to really get there, where we we sat and we openly talked about how we were feeling about what was going on. After the aftermath of George Floyd's killing. You wrote code. You wrote letters, things that helped you cope. And then you also take the time to talk with other staff members and being able to educate them. Talk to me about how that experience was for you. Because you weren't doing therapy at that? Was my idea is always my own. Maybe? What? No, that time was hard for everyone, which was beautiful that we were able to be together on, I think, I think our agency did something that a lot of people were scared to do, which was talking about it the first step, right. And that was it. That was huge for me, because coming from the place that we come from. And yeah, so being the one that's not the one in the room, basically, what that means to me is being different. Being an outlier, being someone who you can visibly say, Hey, you look like everyone else, or you're not, you're not coming with the same things that other people are coming with, right? So we look at marginalized people. And I feel like a lot of times in my life, I've fallen in that category, for different reasons, being a woman, being a person of color, different things like that. And so for me, I was like, wow, look at look at this opportunity for us to kind of come together as a whole, and people to hear us, right, like, really hear how we feel. And so I loved I love the opportunity, I think the biggest thing I got from that whole experience. And I think that our agency really did some good healing in that time, was that the first step is being courageous enough just to say, Hey, this is what's going on. And like we have got to talk about it right. Having those hard conversations is something that's so important. And maybe we don't see change for five years after the combo, right? Maybe it's 10 years later, I don't know. But I know that it feels good in that moment to know that other people care. And to kind of just come together on that. And so the CDF CDI has been amazing. I think that everyone in it and involved around it have been open and honest. And I think that's another beautiful concept that we haven't always gotten. And then the conversations outside, you know, I've taken it to other meetings like, Hey, I didn't see you there. And I just want you to know, this is what we're doing. Right? And that even having that received well has been a great a great feeling. You know, I'm sitting here right now with Black Lives Matter earrings. I mean, it's like no one cares about that. You know, like it's important that we can say and express ourselves the way that we feel and be accepted and then in return You know, be positively reinforced by that we talk about that a lot. And so I think that, you know, it was good, it was good for everyone. It was good for the agency, and we have to keep doing that work. We have to never give up on it. Because I think it's so important. Which led me into my next question, you kind of just answered a little bit. Why did you join the committee? They you said it was something that a lot of other agencies didn't do something that we had not done here, as an agency, what made you join it? I think it's one of those things that like, sometimes you know, what you have to offer like, before you come to a table or a position, and then sometimes you have no idea like, maybe I'm just there just to say I'm there to be a part of the collective? I don't know. I think I felt like I had no choice. Right. Like, it's one of those things that I did without thinking kind of like breathing like, Oh, I'm gonna do that for sure. Because it's a part of my passion. And it's something that isn't personal, that doesn't just personally affect me, but professionally, you know, it's something that has followed me for my life and will continue to follow me. And I think that this was not only like healing, like I said, but also good practice, because there's gonna be another situation where we have to speak up and have that difficult, difficult conversation. I think one time in a meeting, you told me it was like, not what you say. It's not what you say, it's how you say it. And ever since then I'm like, Okay, I have important things to say. And I'm always gonna say them. That's one thing about me, no matter what it is, so just finding the way to say, Hey, I got this going on, or hey, like, I wanted to talk to you about this, like, those things are so important. And I think the CDI, si si Cid, is that right? Yep. Yeah. CDL use me abbreviations. Um, yeah, I think that that's another thing that gives us the ability to do like, you know, teaching us that there are hard topics, were even going to have those conversations with our clients. So if you can't do that with yourself and your own time and your own comfort zone, you cannot do that with another person. So yeah, I think it does a lot for everyone. And it also just gives a safe space to kind of say, hey, this happened, and I need someone to hear me. I'll tell you a difficult conversation. You talked about vulnerability, having those hard conversations. I remember you as a new therapist, you came into my office one day, and you say, Well, I got a question for you. And before I can send you away, I said, what? You asked me, what should you do to a certain situation? Do you recall where I'm heading with this? Of course, referral that was a outpatient therapy referral. They requested an African American female therapist. And you like, I mean, what if? What if you have a different background story? That really hit home to me? Because we're both black? We're both African Americans, from my viewpoint, from walking in my shoes. Yeah, your background is different from mine. And there are different struggles that you face being a black female that I don't face as a black male. And then you come from an interracial backgroundErika Lathon:
Looking back on where you were in that moment. How do you encourage other individuals who have backgrounds that is similar to yours? How do they cope with what's going on? What do they? How do they deal with it? Yeah, so I think something we often talk about is skin color. I've often made comments like, you know, what, my skin is not outwardly black. So that does to me a different category, I am mixed, which is a fact of life, biracial, whatever you want to call it. And, you know, I've had this conversation 1000 times my grandma. And she'd always say, Well, what do you identify? That's all that matters. And, you know, that looks different for everyone. And everyone gets the right identify with what they want to and I think that's something I personally believe. And so I guess that's where I originally was coming from with the question I say, in that scenario, if anyone else is faced with that, but you got a hunch that self doubt, because at the bottom of that self doubt, was a person once again, back to humility. And, you know, you reminded me like your therapist, just do your job. Right. So I think that in this world, we have all these hats, what I call them, they're also identities, whatever you want to call it boxes to check off whatever. And you know, I think that they weigh on us sometimes. You know, I've Like I said, I'm a woman, I'm a woman of color. I am a biracial woman. So yeah, I have been right in the middle of all of that my whole life. And navigating that has never been just a simple black and white answer, which is now no pun intended there. So, when looking at that, you know, I think self doubt is easy to feel it's, you actually gave me a book recently Brene Brown book, talking about your your best thing, and I have literally not put it down since you gave it to me to return, but you know what? I'm working on it. So it will return quickly. Um, and one of the things that they talk about is black guilt. And what does that look like? Right? Like, everyone's is different. And it comes in all shapes and sizes, and it's very careful, right, you carry it anywhere you go. And so, you know, there's essays in there that talk about that. And each version of like, guilt is different. So different, but it's, it's definitely something that he can relate to on each scenario. So, you know, that advice that I have for that is just hush yourself down and remember who you are. Remember your ancestors, remember what you came from what you what was built around you, which was literally this country. So I think you know, those things, empower me and remind me that I am where I'm supposed to be. I always tell myself, I have this quote in my mirror in my bathroom, don't question the table, you set out. Someone set you there, right? And a lot of times, you know, maybe it's you really brought me in here into this agency gave me a choice the first time or maybe, you know, I worked for I don't know which one it is, but either one. I've been here and I've been awarded the spot. So I can't question that. So that's my advice. You know, I'm gonna challenge that. He said, I gave you a spot. How hard did you work as an intern, or you worked hard for it, and you earn it spot, you're in this spot. You know, there are a lot of interns that come through, and they work hard. And unfortunately, we're not able to find a placement at that time. Then there are moments where things align together, and they work out the way as they should. You worked hard for it as an intern, you you understand the importance of networking, and showing people who you truly are, and really learning to understand your why. And just talk about it. But understand your why. So you're in your seat at the table. You're great at it. Thank you. Thank you. Yes, yes. So we talk a lot about self care. We've talked about you know why you got into the field and youth boys finding your voice having your own lived experience, cultural competence being black in America? What are some self care tips that you can give listeners out there that you have found helpful in dealing with any of those categories? Yeah, so self care is something you taught me. So kudos. Before that I did not know what self care was just flat out to be honest. And I think that self care is once again a journey, one of those lifelong journeys that we should never quit, and always seek. And for me, advice on self care is, whatever you can do to de glamorize it do that. Self care needs to be accessible. I mean, literally, at the snap of a finger, it needs to be something that always makes you feel good, not a 50% time and then the other time it doesn't, right. It needs to be something that you can do at any moment, anyplace and anytime. You know, I often tell my people that you've got to find free self care first, and then build on that build on the things that you can't afford to do and the things that look good to you, but self care at the basis. Literally what makes you feel good. If that's walking outside for five minutes in between your break, you do that right? And then making a plan for is the other thing I never thought about, like why would I plan on self care, right? That was another thing you taught me, I'm like, why don't need to write this down. But we all know that if we see things, we're more apt to do them. So writing it down is really important. And it's kind of like setting a goal for yourself. If you don't have the intention to accomplish that go, you won't do it. So I think it's really huge. Everyone should have a self care plan. It should be reevaluated every 30 days type thing. And it should it should be specific to things that work for you and things that don't. You should have options, plenty of options. Learned that along the way as well. Options are good. Options are good. You heard me tell the story. I got that guitar during the pandemic. And that was going to be a part of my self care plan. But I can't read music. So it became more of a stressor. So I had to change that up. Listen to people playing guitars. That's my ministry right there. Yes. Listening to music playing. It's good. Good. So as we as we wrap up being a thermistor headed on the licensor licensure track. Very exciting, very exciting. What is your hope for those who are scared to enter into their into enter into therapy of their own? What's your hope for those who may not even see the importance of going? Well, I always want to validate that there's a lot of reasons to fear therapist to fear system help, basically, bottom line, there is generational trauma, then there is just real life fears, you know, like, what if they don't help me? Or what if they're not what I need in this moment? I went to some conference, I believe it was socat. And I cannot remember the speaker's name for the life of me, so forgive me. But they said something that's always stuck with me. And they said that therapy is like dating. And at first I was like, What? No way. But then I thought about it. And I was like, yes, absolutely. Like you have to date around, you have to be open to dating, right? First, that's the first step. And then you have to be open for it to be bad. Okay, and that you can find someone good. Okay. So I think that's important to know that your first experience may not go well. And your first therapist may be terrible. And that's okay, too. So keeping that in your mind, I mean, open to it. And then the other part is, I do what's called parallels for my people, because sometimes with mental health being a new thing, right, because something that's trending right now, it's hard to understand, we talked about fear, we fear things we don't understand. So I do parallels all the time, physical health, you got to your physical health doctor, right, you have to maintain your physical body, you have a whole body here. Well, your mind is inside of your body. And it's very important that we maintain our mental health, which is our brain. And so you know, just letting them know that just like you have a body to maintain you have a mind, that does not mean that you have a mental health disorder that's gonna label you for life. It just means that you have some things to take care of, you got a little tune up you need here and there, you know, you got to relax, everyone. So how do you start recharge those things? And just normalizing as much as we can. People always are worried, oh, if we talk about mental health, everyone's gonna know if we don't talk about it. No one's going to get help. And that's the biggest thing for me talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, even when you're uncomfortable talk a little bit more. Until someone says, oh, I never thought about it like that, or oh, that's the first time I'm hearing and then you know, you've done you've done a good job. So I think Monique says this a lot. One of our staff she wants her job is to work herself out of a job. And I'm adopting that mindset, I would love to wake up one day and no one need me, I think that it would be a little frightening as a helper to feel that I will might be a little panicked. But at the same time, I feel like it would feel like I've accomplished a lot and that I would feel good to know that my clients are empowered and doing things on their own. So go out there, try things out and get some help. It's okay. I love you, I hope you understand the impact that you are making. This podcast is meant for people to realize that you know what? You can do it and look back and say, Yeah, I did it. I did it. So I appreciate you for being a part of another great impact that we're trying to make as people as an agency. And thank you for everything that you're doing. So we really appreciate it. Really appreciate. Final words you want to leave for anybody listening, ready to wrap up at the next session? I am.Erika Lathon:
Thank you, Dan voices is now hiring qualified applicants to build positions all across the state. You can be part of a growing team that puts the mental health of Tennesseans first and thrive in a compassionate work environment to apply to join our team log on to tn voices.org/employment. September is Suicide Prevention Month, and there are things each of us can do to help prevent suicide every year at this time lifeline and other mental health organizations and individuals across the US and around the world, raise awareness of suicide prevention. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-8255 and head to tea and voices.org for mental health resources, including our newly renovated online library. You can be the one to prevent suicide this month and all your law by gaining the tools and knowledge you need to foster better mental health for yourself and those around you. Thank you for joining us. If you enjoy today's program, like subscribe and review this podcast if you or someone you know is in need of mental health support services, log on to tn voices.org or call one 806 70988 to join us next time as we get candid