By JR Valrey
Mental health has been and continues to be a rarely discussed social issue that has been plaguing our local Bay Area Black community for eons, and the Covid pandemic and the shelter in place mandate is compounding a catastrophe that was already well underway. Dr. Jaseon Outlaw, a psychologist with offices in San Leandro and in Sacramento, is on the front-line in helping us to deal with our trauma and mental health issues in a safe way, where we can feel comfortable talking to someone who looks like us, who knows where we have been, and what we are going through.
As a community, we need to take the steps to help ourselves in this lane, if for nothing else, so we don’t traumatize the youth, and are able to break generational cycles. Addiction, suicide, and neglect are a few of the signs that someone is mentally sick, and if we call ourselves community-oriented, we have to help find solutions, because as we can see with the disparities that have come to light with this pandemic and shelter in place mandate, the government does not care, and it is on us to take care of each other. Dr. Jason Outlaw is one of few Black males locally that are at this level, doing this type of work. Check him out in this interview, and don’t be scared to call him if you or a loved one need him or his team.
JR Valrey: With the pandemic and shelter in place having been in effect for over 10 months, are we in a mental health crisis? If not, what would you call it? Please explain.
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: We have actually been in a mental health crisis for quite some time. The pandemic has just exacerbated what already exists. While we have made strides in the right direction with respect to reducing mental health stigma, we are so far behind that the crisis has existed. The period of time is testing everyone’s ability to maintain sanity while enduring the unknown. It is tough on us all.
JR Valrey: With all the hysteria surrounding the vaccine, specifically the blatant targeting of Black people to be some of the vaccines first recipients, how is the local Black community in Oakland and Sac that you work with, mentally handling this?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: I’ve noticed an interesting trend. The more education people of color have, the more likely they are to be okay taking the vaccine. Black people have every right in the world to feel anxiety and fear based on documented health inequities and mistreatment (e.g. Tuskegee Experiments) so it is no surprise that when we are targeted to become subjects in the trials, we will be hesitant. Not a lot of people know this, but drugs metabolize in our bodies differently, based on ethnicity. Therefore, when a clinical trial is taking place you do need participants from the different groups to show efficacy.
JR Valrey: With January bringing an end to the federal eviction moratorium nationally, how do you think that this will affect the mental health of Black families in particular?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: Fortunately, I do not believe that January will be the end of the eviction moratorium and we are seeing the beginning stages of another federal stimulus package. We do not know the details of what will be approved, but this should help with this effort as it did in the beginning of the pandemic.
JR Valrey: How have Black children been dealing with sheltering in place from your perspective?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: Not well. When you are a young person, you seek independence and freedom. Independence is one of the resolved stages of psycho-social development and is very much a necessary part of our development. In addition, sheltering in place has a negative effect on our physical health. Luckily (some parents will disagree) that we have computers, video games, tv, and social media as forms of inside entertainment. You can imagine what things would be like without the aforementioned.
JR Valrey: What is mental health? And how does one take care of their mental health?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: Mental health involves all processes related to one’s emotional health. This includes a multitude of different yet related concepts, but it is ultimately our emotional health. The first step to managing one’s mental health is awareness. For example, if you are unaware that you have contributions and are pouring fuel on the flames of intimate relationships, you have little to no chance of positive change. My recommendation is to engage in introspection and ask yourself what your contributions to your concerns may be (hint: We all have contributions to our problems).
JR Valrey: What inspired you to want to get into the mental health field?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: Oddly enough, I fell into the field merely after taking a general psychology course as an undergraduate at Southern University. I was interested in schizophrenia and how one may hallucinate and have an impaired reality. I’ve been in the field ever since.
JR Valrey: What were some of the steps that you took to open up your own practice? Was it difficult that you are one of few Black people at your level?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: You have to be willing to take a risk. There are no guarantees but I think if you do a decent market analysis and determine areas of need for your community, it is not difficult to be a successful private practice owner. Being one of the few Black male psychologists (practicing) in the area is not difficult in and of itself. However, when my clinics are full and we need to refer out, it does make it tough.
JR Valrey: What do you specialize in?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: Google Dr. Jaseon Outlaw, PhD – Journey Of Life Psychological, Inc.
JR Valrey: Do you see clients in person or online?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: At the time, we are doing tele-health only, given the Covid pandemic, but I normally see people in person.
JR Valrey: What are your mental health predictions for the Black community in 2021?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: That mental health treatment will become more normal and more people will seek services.
JR Valrey: How can people get more info about your services? How can people follow you online?
Dr. Jaseon Outlaw: http://www.journeypsy.com/
13847 E. 14th St.#202, San Leandro, CA 94578 Ph: 510.463.1302 Fax: 510-817-4112 http://journeypsy.com