Iowa State will hold a panel discussing mental health in the Black community


Courtesy of the Iowa State College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Multicultural Student Success Instagram page

Among other Black History Month events, a Black mental health panel will take place on Wednesday. 

Kaitlyn Richardson

A perspective not commonly taken when it comes to discussing Black History Month is the mental well-being of people of color due to the struggles the month is intended to recognize. Director of Multicultural Student Success, Arnold Woods III, feels the upcoming Black Mental Health Panel on Feb. 9th will be a great way to add in this perspective.

“What we’re thinking about now is also connecting it to what is most beneficial for us today,” Woods said. “How can we uplift Black voices today and use this month to really leverage taking care of ourselves? Not just the persistent social justice battles that we have to face, but while we are doing that how we can take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally [and] socially.”

Beyond opening the conversation, Woods feels that this panel will provide useful skills and advice around the concept of mental health that will help students have a safe, fulfilling and successful experience while they are at Iowa State.

“You can expect a candid conversation- a conversation with students who are willing to be vulnerable, willing to share their stories and also provide really detailed and informed strategies for really focusing on and centering mental health from a Black person’s perspective,” Woods said.

Woods said that the panel will consist of three Iowa State students, each coming from a unique background that will allow them to provide a diverse perspective in the conversation. One of the panelists, Jassma’Ray Johnson, a senior in psychology, runs her own business on top of being a student.

“So you’ll hear the perspective of students who are going to be talking about mental health from a variety of perspectives, you know, as a student, as someone who’s working, as someone who is thinking about their career outside of just their undergraduate degree,” Woods said. “They’re thinking about what comes next for them and how does mental health play in that?”

Woods also feels that the audience will play an incredibly valuable role in the conversation.

“You’re going to get conversations that are really intimate and deep, and you’re going to get a dialogue,” Woods said. “They’re going to take questions. You’re going to see, hopefully, a panel where people and everyone in the room, is willing to share a little bit about themselves and their own journeys, for the collective good.”

This event will occur at 3:25 on Feb. 9 in Carver 204. Later this month, there will be a separate staff member panel. Woods wants people to know that while the focus is on the Black perspective, everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

“I would certainly say that we want as many Black students there as we can,” Woods said. “We also want you to know what’s going to be said, I think, can be beneficial to a wide variety of students regardless of race. It’s important for Black students to hear about how to protect themselves mentally, how to think about new strategies for promoting their mental health, but it’s also good for other students to think about and kind of hear about some of the challenges that Black students face here and how they can help promote mental health for Black students and for other students as well.”