S1E04 - POC and Mental Health f/ Jayann Pinto-Samuda, LCSW
We tackle mental health treatment for POC/minorities. Guest Jayann Pinto-Samuda is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who explains the importance of cultural competency, how misconceptions influence treatment, and ways you can get help.
It was a jammed packed episode so feel free to settle in and check out the shownotes to see what we touched on.
00:00 - We kick off the episode with Jayann touching on the extensive exams and training programs that she had to go through in order to become a LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Insurance and how or if you can practice is what separates a LCSW from the other job titles that may seem similar to hers.
04:00 - A day in the life for Jayann is anything but ordinary. She sees a variety of cases through the 3 programs she’s a therapist for: AOP (outpatient therapy), Project Save (people dealing with violence), and HCJ (works with people reintegrating into society).
07:00 - The top 4 issues that Jayann sees in her job is depression, anxiety, trauma, and PTSD.
What is the perception that mental health (MH) professionals have toward MH treatment for POC?
08:00 - Although Jayann works in a predominantly African American area, her patients tend to be Hispanic and she finds that it is harder for African Americans to receive the type of service she provides.
10:25 - We hit the hot topic of misconceptions based on race/ethnicity. When a therapist who exhibits their bias through reluctance to work with specific clients, it hinders not only the clients’ progress but the profession as a whole. Cultural competence works both ways, on both the client and the therapist’s side. While some people may have a preference for a certain type of therapist, others have trauma that dictates this. For example, someone may need a therapist of the same sex due to trauma with the opposite sex.
15:00 - When it comes to developing a treatment plan, therapists should be able to adapt their methods for each client. Part of this adaptation is understanding cultural aspects that influence their views as well as their socio-economic status - ensuring this people has the means to go access the suggested treatment.
16:50 - Does mental health treatment depend on the client’s race/ethnicity? Jayann explains it’s a delicate balance between methodology and being active in the partnership with the client. She touches on goal-setting and revaluation.
20:00 - Does mental health treatment depend on the therapist’s race/ethnicity? We break down how in an empathy/sympathy-focused field, using personal life experience and willingness to learn from other cultures is key to building trust. Passive privilege can affect the therapist’s interaction with a client and shape the client’s assumptions of similar therapists.
“But they don’t tell you how to be a person. You either have it, learn it, or you don’t”
25:00 - While things might seem doom and gloom in the mental healthcare field for POC, Jayann points out the positive direction the field is progressing towards such as offering additional gender identity options for clients to choose from. She recommends increasing cultural competency training for therapists and gives insight into the one training she attended where calling out the need to recognize your own privilege had most of the attendees shook.
32:00 - The work of understanding each other has to be done on many sides: between client and therapist or between therapist and therapist. It comes down to meeting people where they are at.
What is the perception that people of color have toward mental health treatment?
34:00 - Celebrities and talk shows has increased awareness about mental health issues. Jayann would love for it to get to the point where more people have received therapy than that haven’t - for therapy to be normalized.
36:00 - Jayann gives examples of how, in her experience, the racist practices of the United States legal system deliberately hinders the spread of knowledge to specific communities, thus affecting the awareness of services available - ultimately affecting the lives of many, including the future of children. Those in positions of power, such as a school guidance counselor making referrals for services, can also influence the access a client may or may not get for treatment.
42:00 - If someone is aware of the services, can they even afford it or physically get to it? We explore payment methods for therapy or similar services, such as insurance or local community agencies. Beyond being financially accessible, being able to get to treatment can be a challenge for some - both in terms of transportation and physical ability. Networking within the services you already receive can be helpful for receiving additional resources.
“Call 2-1-1. They will help you. They will give you information… There is a long wait, but it will be worth it.”
49:00 - Do minority clients request to work with minority therapists, and if so, what is the motivation? Feeling comfortable with your therapist is crucial and therefore someone of a specific ethnicity may feel that a therapist of their ethnicity will understand them better. Language goes beyond grammer and can be crucial to a client truly communicating deep concepts and emotions - which is central to effective mental health treatment. Jayann gives us insight to times clients were discriminatory toward her and how therapists can break down barriers and stereotypes to focus on building a relationship with the client.
“When I first met you, I didn’t want you in my house.”
55:00 - How do cultural norms factor into whether or not a POC/minority seeks mental health treatment? How someone was raised and what they were taught can shape their fear or reluctance to seek help. For parents, sometimes the hesitation to seek services comes from the fear of their child being taken away or being judged by their community as a “bad” parent. Jayann brings up how generational experiences and lack of knowledge shaped their opinion of either not needing help, weren’t allowed to need help, or that the help was even available.
We wrapped up with a fun lightening round of “This or That” where Jayann was given sets of two words and she had to pick one quickly.
It’s important to be open minded to the treatment process and who the professional is but find someone that you are comfortable with and you feel is meeting your needs. Be upfront about your needs and preferences, as they relate to your healing process. Understand that it is a relationship and the effort is a two-way street. Call your insurance to see services are covered or check local agencies. If you can’t financially afford therapy, reach out to family, friends, an online community, or someone that you trust. It’s okay to ask for help.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Jayann Pinto-Samuda has an LCSW and has been working in the field for over 7 years. As a Jamaican, who was raised both there and in America, she graduated from Fordham University with a Masters in Social Work with specialization in trauma, cognitive behavioral therapy, and motivational interviewing. Jayann has a passion for working with underserved populations and fighting for the rights of minorities. She believes that there is a vast disparity in how Black and Brown people are treated in the legal system and aims educate others on the problem as well as getting justice for the disadvantaged. Equally as devoted to women’s rights, Jayann especially advocates for Black women to get equal and fair healthcare and finding solutions to the unbalanced healthcare system. She is a supporter of #BlackLivesMatter. Email Jayann