Mental Health Awareness has become a popular topic over the past years. The negative stigma of nurturing one’s mental and emotional health has slowly become an antiquated pattern of thought. Despite society’s focus on mental health issues, prior to COVID-19, incidences of mental illness among adults were increasing. Between the years 2017 and 2018, 19% of adults experienced a mental illness, which is an increase of 1.5 million people over the past year’s data.
Regardless of the fact that mental health conditions occur in Black Americans at about the same (or less) frequency than in White Americans, Black adults are more likely to report persistent symptoms of emotional duress. They are also more likely to experience exclusion from proper healthcare due to socioeconomic barriers. Black people have historically been negatively affected by prejudice and discrimination in the health care system in America. To this day. many Black individuals still have a disproportionate amount of negative experiences when they attempt to seek treatment.
In spite of all of the barriers they may face, it is important for individuals of Black community to advocate for their mental health. While access and resources may be limited and lacking for Black Americans, there are individuals that are working on providing education and resources to these communities.
Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down and speak to Tarrin Morgan II, CEO of Real Talk Session Series about his company and what they are doing to help the Black community with their Mental Health.
A Conversation with Tarrin Morgan II, CEO of Real Talk Session Series
Jade: Real Talk Session Series is a unique company. It seems as though you cover everything from social justice to mental health in the Black/POC community. How did you formulate the idea to form this specific type of company?
Tarrin: The Real Talk Session Series name actually came from a college event that I created as a safe space for Black and Brown students and staff to discuss topics at a predominantly white college. The first event featured a conversation with the Real Housewives of Potomac, Dr. Wendy Osefo, on Race, Gender and Leadership.
In May 2018, I graduated with my second Masters but I struggled to find a job. It wasn’t until I was rock bottom in the darkness of depression and suicidal ideation that I received a sign that it was meant for me to live in the idea that sparked my business came to me during that period of time.
Jade: It seems despite the darkness you face, you were able to overcome a great deal of your mental struggles. I know that could not have been an easy journey. What were some of the barriers that you faced?
Tarrin: When I was initially experiencing mental health trauma, I had an extremely hard time finding a licensed mental health professional that could assist me. There were not many people who looked like me that I felt I could trust or my insurance wasn’t accepted. This was a common problem that I saw others having too so I became the change I wanted to see.
Some other issues that I noted was that mental health education was looked at as a one size fits all thing, practitioners that lacked cultural-humility, and/or medical terminology that is confusing due to the fact that the majority of the citizens in this country do not hold a college degree.
With these observations and my 10 years plus experience in mental health emergency response for college students, I was able to create an easily accessible platform that delivers information in an innovative and unique way that really sticks with people.
Jade: It’s refreshing to hear that you speak so openly about your own mental health struggles and how they helped you form this company. What would you say the ultimate goal of the Real Talk Session Series would be?
Tarrin: I’d say the goal of my company is to make a positive impact on education reform, criminal justice reform, and mental health awareness. However, we do not limit ourselves as we talk about any other topics that relate to the empowerment of black communities across this nation.
Jade: Seems as though reform in general is a big deal to you. Change takes a lot of work. What projects are you working on currently to spread the message?
Tarrin: We are currently producing various types of educational video content that focus on erasing stigma. “Black Men, Get You Some Therapy” is a video series that breaks down issues that specifically affect Black men in efforts to break the stigma associated with mental illness.
The topics we discussed were anger, high functioning depression, fatherhood, and emotional intelligence. For Valentine’s Day we released a special sex education video series for couples and single people called Let’s Talk Sex w/Blex. We also have a Hoodoo education video series in partnership with Juju Bae that decolonizes this misunderstood religious practice that has been demonized by the media and society.
“The Miseducation of the People” podcast is another tool that we have to help uplift the community. The podcast purpose is to debunk the things that we have been lied about in school and society. We cover topics that the media avoids due to biases in a way that is fun and unapologetically Black.
Jade: Thank you for doing such great work to provide education and access to the people. How can folks support you and learn more about the Real Talk Session Series?
Tarrin: People can support the Real Talk Session series in a few different ways: subscribe and leave a review for the Miseducation of the People podcast (Available on Apple, Spotify, Soundcloud, Google, and Stitcher), follow/subscribe to our Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube and talk to us @RealTalkSessionSeries! We love hearing from people and seeing what information they would like to learn about.
Lastly, all of our content is self-funded so purchasing an item (or two or three ) from our merch store www.realtalksessionseries.org/shop helps us fund productions. You can also visit us at www.realtalksessionseries.org