S3E10: Inclusivity And Accessibility of Mental Health
S3E10: Inclusivity And Accessibility of Mental Health
Melody Li, founder of Inclusive Therapists and Mental Health Liberation, speaks on how service users in traditional mental health care systems are excluded and barriers to access are unaccounted for in traditional models. Melody shares how practicing from a decolonial, liberation-oriented, and anti-oppressive model can inform on accessibility, inclusive practices for service users, and mental health professionals.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Melody Li (佢/ any) is a queer migrant of Color and settler on Turtle Island；
she has had her fair share of struggles in finding a therapist. Becoming tired of educating therapists on her multi-cultures, racialized trauma, and what it's like to navigate systemic injustices impacting her communities, Melody founded Inclusive Therapists, a network prioritizing All people with all abilities in all bodies who deserve equal access to identity affirming, culturally responsive care.
This episode was produced by Global Thinking Foundation USA and Hangar Studios.
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[00:00:00] Nolan: Hi again, listeners. This is your co-host Nolan here with Mary.
[00:00:04] Mary: Hi there, everybody. I've missed you all terribly, all your beautiful faces that I've never met. I miss you all so much. We're so happy to be back.
[00:00:11] Nolan: Yeah. Thank you so much for joining us today for another episode in our mental health miniseries. We're really pleased to share with you our conversation with Melody Li, founder of Inclusive Therapists, a therapy directory that celebrates all identities, abilities, and bodies. Together with Melody, we have an honest conversation today on the topic of inclusion, as a means towards mental health accessibility.
[00:00:37] Mary: That's spot on. This grassroots collective-- Melody has grown this expansive network of social justice oriented and culturally responsive therapists, prioritizing equal access to identity affirming and culturally responsive care. She's going to walk us through the framework of care with an intentional decolonial, liberation-oriented approach as a therapist.
[00:01:01] Nolan: And she'll talk to us about how this framework can be practically applied as a means for inclusion and accessibility within mental health care services and how we can envision better care for all in the future.
[00:01:16] Mary, Nolan, Laquita Ann: Hi, I'm Mary. I'm Nolan. I'm Laquita Ann. We are your hosts, and this is 'Your World, Your Money.' We will be talking real money, with real people, in a real way. Because everyone deserves the opportunity and tools for freedom, financial or otherwise. 'Your World, Your Money' is brought to you by Hangar Studios, a New York City based recording studio, and Global Thinking Foundation, a global nonprofit working toward financial freedom and equality for all.
[00:02:01] Mary: Melody, welcome here. We're excited to have you. We're excited to chat with you. So, just to get everybody started and share with our listeners, tell us about you. Tell us about your path and your journey and what got you to Inclusive Therapists, and what steps along the way that we absolutely need to know about.
[00:02:21] Melody: Thank you. Thank you, Mary and Nolan for having me, it's such an honor to be here. My name is Melody Li Ning Hay, which means 'abundant in hope' in Cantonese, my native language, and I am located on the land of the Tonkawa tribe, Shimano Nation, K'opi Kaw Nation, also known as so called Austin, Texas, and I use pronouns car in Cantonese and any in English.
[00:02:47] Melody: Little bit about me, I call myself a colony born migrant diasporic settler, which is a mouthful. But what that means is me and my people are from Hong Kong, which was a British colony until 1997. And so, my lineage, we survived colonialism and with that also came a migrant journey, which has been really informing of the work that I do in, uh, mental health liberation, mental health, justice, and also decolonizing mental health, which I understand we're going to talk a little bit more about later. But I lead with that to help listeners locate me, but also maybe locate yourself on where your lineage is from and your relationship with the land that you're on.
[00:03:41] Melody: And so, yeah, growing up in Hong Kong, an Asian body in a British colony meant that I was indoctrinated and also really colonized. Really my mindset was colonized. So, I internalized a lot of things that were very harmful to me and my people, including: white supremacist ideology, you know, cis-heteronormativity, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, capitalism, classism-- all these things that deeply hurt and impact our mental wellbeing. But of course, growing up, I didn't know that. It was just something that was embodied in me. That was something that was passed down intergenerationally in order for me and my people to survive.
[00:04:23] Melody: And my branch of the family had the privilege to migrate to colonial Canada, so-called Canada. And that migrant journey was also, you know, a form of displacement. And when I landed in Canada, coming to realize, 'wow, this is a land that is also stolen land, impacted by genocide enslavement of people.' And I had to navigate that, but also negotiate that within myself, I, as a settler here, 'what is my responsibility?''
[00:04:56] Melody: 'What is my duty?' And so that started to inform the way that I started to see my career. As I became a therapist and thinking the mental health field is built upon the same colonial construct. It is white supremist. It is cis-heteronormative and if I were to participate in this system, am I doing harm? And if so, what is my duty? What can I do to move this field forward? What dismantling work needs to be done? And so that's kind of a long way to share that my journey here really is informed by my people and then also being on this land, being conscious of my impact here as a visitor.
[00:05:40] Nolan: So, I'm really curious to learn about the journey you took to found Inclusive Therapists. Can you tell me about how you became aware of the scope and field of mental health and what the deficiencies in that may be and how you came to see Inclusive Therapists as a movement, or maybe an as an activist tool to do good work and fight against some of those inequities?
[00:06:02] Melody: Yes, happy to. I think in entering into the mental health field as a person of color, queer person of color. First thing I noticed is the aloneness that oftentimes throughout school, throughout trainings, seeing professors, looking through curriculum and books, oftentimes I feel like I'm not included in this... and I don't see others-- I see very few peers that I can connect with, from an identity level. And so, I think that aloneness sparked something, certainly I'm not the only one that felt alone.
[00:06:41] Melody: And so, what that did was it really prompted me to build community. So, on a local level, the first community that I started to co-create, that's really dear to my heart, is Austin therapists of color, where other therapists of color-- we just came together and said, 'how do we support one another? But also, how do we best support service users, black, indigenous, and service users of, um, color?' And from there, there's also Austin counseling collective, which is a BIPOC centric group therapy practice that I co-founded.
[00:07:18] Melody: And so, this need for community is really at the heart of Inclusive Therapists. So, when we started to grow Austin Therapists of Color, other therapists of color from other places reached out and said, 'I want to do what you're doing in our city.' And so, seeing this need, we just started to come together and to connect.
[00:07:36] Melody: And so, this idea came from, 'we need a space for us where we will be validated and can find support and let's make it bigger.' And so Inclusive Therapists is now all across so-called U.S. And so-called Canada.
[00:07:52] Nolan: That's incredible. I'm really curious to learn more. What's some of the reactions you've received from therapists who have been interested in getting involved?
[00:08:02] Melody: I love that question. So, in order to be a part of the community, there are two- there are two ways. One, is we have a scholar membership where everyone is invited to come in, come learn and participate, be a part of our professional trainings, our healing circles. Then there's the directory. So, the directory is when therapists that share values such as social justice and liberation-oriented values, anti-oppressive values, can apply to become a part of the directory. And we actually go through a verification or a vetting process to, to, to the best of our ability, dialogu[ing] with therapists to ensure that our values are indeed aligned so that when service users are using our directory to find a therapist we do our best to make it a simpler and safer process.
[00:08:56] Melody: Because the heart of our community is centering on the needs of people with marginalized identities and oftentimes these are folks that may have been burned or retraumatize in therapy by therapists that are not culturally responsive or may have not done their own personal healing work around these colonial constructs.
[00:09:17] Melody: And so, the reaction from therapists that find us are like, 'wow, finally, there is a place where I am seen.' Where, when they sign up, they're thinking, 'wow, I didn't realize that there's so many of us that share these values that also want to be a part of this mental health, justice, and liberation movement.'
[00:09:37] Melody: And so, there's oftentimes excitement and also relief, too. To think that there-- we can do things a different way, that we're not reliant on other systems in place that can be violent against people like us. And sometimes it's just celebratory. When we have our monthly fireside chat, it's just great to meet one another and folks start to collaborate. And that's my favorite thing. When, when people meet, connect, and they collaborate and do more work in their local communities. I get really excited about that.
[00:10:16] Mary: Melody, you were describing a lot of services and opportunities and they sound incredible. And from our perspective as well, I think about that entrepreneurial path. You had to build all of those things. You had to create all of those things, test them, see if they would work, and there's a massive-- we listen and we think, 'wow, that's so cool.' But there's also that massive journey for you as an entrepreneur on that side as well. And something that we talk a lot about is the inequities in entrepreneurship. So, tell us a little bit about that entrepreneurial journey that you've faced so far in, and especially creating all of those programs and creating all of those services. That's a lot.
[00:11:02] Melody: Thank you, Mary. It can be a lot. There are days when things are just hard. It feels like I'm sitting in front of my computer for 10 hours and I feel like I'm just emailing constantly. So, while I talk about the work that we do, there is a lot of work in the background. I would say what drives my entrepreneurial spirit. Really, I stand upon the shoulders of my two grandmothers that were very resourceful, and they were both illiterate and they raised these big families. They were told, essentially by our society, that these women are not supposed to thrive. They're not supposed to make it, but they have this strength and this fire that says, 'no matter what comes my way, I'm going to make it for the people that I love.'
[00:11:52] Melody: And so, I feel that, you know, in my spirit. And what also lights my fire is-- you mentioned inequitability. Whenever I see injustices or people being excluded, that really sparks my fire. And when I see needs of people that are systemically unmet, then this light bulb comes on. What can I do to be a bridge in those situations? And so, my entrepreneurial journey is I'm a fighter. If I see something that needs to be done, I would ask, 'how can I be there? How can I fight?' And so, I had to figure out a lot of things along the way. Some privileges that I have is I have education privilege. I also have community support and learning to also lean on community has been a part of my entrepreneurial journey too. To say,' I don't know how to do all these things, but I have a vision who would like to come and collaborate?'
[00:12:48] Melody: You know, I lean a lot on my team. I am actually not great with organizing my schedule and sometimes numbers scare me and I'm very transparent about that. I would share with my team, 'these are the things that I really need help on’, and people are oftentimes more eager to support then one would imagine. And so, coming from a place of humility too, has been important in my entrepreneurial journey.
[00:13:15] Mary: Something that you mentioned that that leads me to think about the, the identities of a lot of the people that you work with and, and how diverse you've been able to create this space around you and obviously how that subsequently serves the people that you work with... when I think about that diverse group of people that works with you, it sounds to me like you all have been noticing these gaps. And maybe it's gaps that you need filled with each other, or maybe it's gaps that you need filled systemically. And when you're hearing about these gaps, how did that lead you to help structure your organization in a way that creates more opportunity and accessibility for others? So, how does that recognition between each of you create more opportunity and accessibility? So, taking a gap and creating. It has a negative connotation but creating a positive if you will.
[00:14:11] Melody: Sure. I love that question. Firstly, about my team, I'm a highly relational person. So, I am always relationships first. People first. So, I build relationship with people that I work with. And in addition to that, I am intentional about who I choose to invite into the process. And so, every single person on my team are people with intersecting, marginalized identities. And so, when we're saying we center on BIPOC needs, we have black, indigenous, and people of color on our team. We have queer, gender nonbinary folks on our team. We have neurodivergent folks, disabled folks on our team.
[00:14:55] Melody: And this is really important to me that if I'm going to build something and serve a community, then we need to have lived experience. So, that is something I'm really, really grateful for because with lived experience means that we are able to understand the nuances and the barriers in a way that numbers or statistics can't possibly tell us.
[00:15:20] Melody: And in terms of increasing accessibility, I think something I'm really proud of is the ways that we uplift therapists with marginalized identities. That by being a part of our community, they're receiving, I hope they're receiving professional and community support. But in addition to that, really practically speaking, referrals.
[00:15:42] Melody: So, we make connections. We also do personalize what we call service user matches with our therapist members. And so, we intentionally want to uplift therapists with marginalized identities and their practices, too. Oftentimes, folks like us on these really big generic directories will just be buried. Our field is predominantly white. Anywhere from 75 to 85% white. And so, whereas we are doing it the other way, we are highlighting, uplifting, amplifying, and in a way, supporting their practices and businesses as well, which is something that I just love. And it's something that I really needed to as an emerging therapist, because I wondered' is it just me?
[00:16:36] Melody: Like, why am I feeling the need to, to fight so hard to be recognized?' Once I started to see, actually this is systemic, then we can do something different about it.
[00:16:47] Nolan: Let's talk about these various identities you're referencing and the importance to users and those seeking out mental health care. So, as you mentioned, historically, the field has been incredibly white and I'm curious what your experience has been when you first decided to enter into this field and first really became aware of this problem and the impact this has had on people seeking care. And talk us through the importance of having a diverse group of therapists and counselors available across so many different identities to be able to give that kind of personalized support for people seeking mental health care.
[00:17:25] Melody: Thank you, Nolan. When I first became aware that this field is very white and cis-heteronormative and ableist is probably when I entered into the classroom, and I simply had to look around me. And being one of two visible minorities in the room. And that continued, that pattern just didn't change as I was going through my trainings and going to different professional events. And so, it was very apparent. I think a part of me was surprised to the degree of how imbalanced this field is. But at the same time now, understanding how this field came to be with Eurocentric psychology and these methodologies, it started to make sense to me. And so that is just from the therapist perspective.
[00:18:20] Melody: From the service user perspective, entering into a therapeutic relationship in itself takes a lot of courage. It's a vulnerable process and what helps with starting and establishing a therapeutic relationship is to know that one would be seen, known, understood, and be accepted. And so, what I'm hearing and I, I, as a service user as well, when I go to therapy, what I notice is a lot of times, people with marginalized identities have to spend a lot of time educating their therapists on what it's like for them to navigate their communities, their spaces, in their bodies, and having to educate one's therapists means there's additional work and burden on the service user. And that in itself is already a barrier for care. Taking a couple steps back, there are so many other barriers such as of course, financial barriers, language barriers, being able to take time off out of one's day, to be able to go to an appointment... childcare, all of these things impact accessibility to care.
[00:19:38] Melody: And these are conversations that are simply not being addressed at least enough in academic settings, where we are being trained. And I feel like a lot of this work comes after folks get licensed, after they've already gone through his training and this indoctrination, and then, then folks have to decide, 'do I want to be accessible?'
[00:20:01] Melody: 'Do I want to help move this field forward? Or do I just keep doing this thing? Because it's working for me?' And so, for Inclusive Therapists, for our community, we bring our lived experience as clients, as service users and talk about what are the challenges that we have faced and how do we, as a community, come to work together to reduce these barriers and to also uplift these needs to advocate for systemic changes.
[00:20:31] Melody: Insurance is a big thing that we talk about. First of all, insurance is not accessible for everyone. But in addition to that, insurance companies also try to minimize the need for mental health care. So, how does that impact accessibility of care, especially for preventative care? So, so much of this work is supplemented in the community, which I find is where we are now, but we also need to advocate for longer-term changes.
[00:21:03] Melody: Yeah, I'd love for us to get into the conversation around accessibility and what needs to change there to truly make mental health care accessible for all. Before we get into that head on, I'd love to ask you this, oftentimes when you're talking about the mental health care space, you talk about the need to decolonize mental health care. And I I'd love to get your take on what that means and what this looks like. What does it look like to decolonize mental health care? That's a big topic, which can be a whole season of a podcast in itself. And what I can bring is just my little slice of the pie. It's a very, very big, expansive pie. When it comes to decolonizing mental health care, the first thing is to recognize that it has to be interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, that it cannot only be mental health care that is doing this work, but how do we connect with other disciplines and systems in order to do this work together.
[00:22:07] Melody: I will lead with saying it starts with land back and black liberation. Decolonizing means the recognition of how we are on stolen land, that this land is built upon the labor of enslaved peoples, and that all of these structures that are in place from education systems, so-called justice system, mental health care system these are all colonial constructs that are historically and continues to be violent against people that are colonized or harmed by colonization. And so, the recognition that we, as a field, by default are doing harm under the guise of being helpers. So, unless if we're willing to contend with that and to say we are by default participating in harm, unless if we really interrogate our practices and firstly advocate for land back, which literally means give the land back-- when we look at these institutions, these universities, even our own homes, we are on stolen land-- we can't do decolonial work unless if we return the land back to its' people. And on top of that, black liberation has to be on the forefront.
[00:23:29] Melody: And so, when I have conversations about decolonizing mental health care, I think a lot of times people become conceptual about it thinking about, 'well, how do I shift my language? Or how do I shift my practice?' It's really, 'are we conscious of our positionality on this land and what we are for and against first as a framework?' And 'are we willing to connect with others to join in and support movements, indigenous sovereignty movements, black liberation movements.' And so, in continuation to that, when we look at the origins of so-called modern psychology, that it is largely Eurocentric-- first of all. Secondly, when we look at the so-called research, that's been done that a lot of times, psychological testing and experiments were done.
[00:24:29] Melody: Um, it's hurts my heart to say, but they perpetuated so much harm on marginalized identities, especially indigenous and black bodies. And if we were to just simply say, 'okay, we're going to continue to do this stuff.' These methods, because research supports it without interrogating how this research comes to be in the harm that's being done, we are just really perpetuating these harmful cycles. It's important for us as practitioners to understand history, see how it's continuing, recognizing our own participation in that, being willing to refuse to participate in certain practices that are harmful even before we can start having conversations about, well, how do we address things that are currently happening when it comes to social justice.
[00:25:17] Melody: This conventional speak is, you know, DEI, like even before talking about that stuff, we need to start dismantling some of our own beliefs about how we are helpers.
[00:25:30] Mary: Thank you so much for bringing that perspective in. And actually, the conversation on decolonization is, is one of the aspects that really drew me in. Naturally as a foundation, we have this core perspective or, or core directive that involves money and finance. And one of the biggest, greatest aspects of colonization is, is money and economics and how that has been used and weaponized against other groups and other people. So, at one question I'd really love to ask here is around the decolonization of mental health and where money comes into that.
[00:26:15] Mary: Where do we see these practical-- cause I love that you mentioned the conceptual side of it. So where do we see these practical things, these money things come in and can we change any of them? Can we work to make any differences? So even if we're coming from the other side of the conversation of finances, can we shift any of that?
[00:26:35] Melody: I love that question. It is examining the mental health industrial complex and to ask, 'should care, should healthcare be an industry?' It is currently, it is what it is. We live in a capitalistic society. I don't think it will last forever, but this is where we currently are. And in this current state, I believe that decolonizing mental health care means shifting away from it being an industry and moving towards collective care. That means reducing the hierarchy between service user and service provider. That we are all responsible for one another's mental health and coming back to our local communities. How do we support one another's mental wellbeing?
[00:27:30] Melody: I think when we talk about mental health care, oftentimes people think of therapy, psychotherapy or group therapy where there is, you know, pathologizing or diagnosing symptoms. And there-- it's kind of seeking cure in a way, but there's so, so much more to mental health care. There's food, right? Accessibility to healthy food, clean water, accessibility to be in nature, having so-called work-life balance, community spaces, family wellbeing.
[00:28:06] Melody: How do we support intergenerational families that may have experienced, you know, colonialism and marginalization? There are so many levels of care that we can each contribute to, but if we're reliant on solely this mental health industrial complex, then we are perpetuating this divide. But how do we bring it back to us? How do we empower ourselves in one another in community to say, actually, we don't have to depend on this system that we know how to take care of us and our people and how do we mobilize? And for therapists or for clinicians, that is something that we need to contend with as well, because this is our livelihood, but does it have to solely be this way?
[00:28:57] Melody: And I'm really inspired by our Inclusive Therapists members and all these ways that they reimagine wellness. That some start community gardens and have conversations about mental wellbeing in the community garden, that there are folks that go hiking together and they tend to one another's mental wellbeing there, of saying it doesn't have to look confined.
[00:29:21] Melody: We don't have to be reliant on these diagnostic models. And also, in addition to that, for black indigenous and people of color, our ways of healing and tending to one another has first been stigmatized by Eurocentric psychology. We were told that our ways of healing are unscientific or are superstitious and all of these awful things, but then now there's a shift.
[00:29:49] Melody: Now there's the co-opting of our ways of healing and tending to one another and it's being packaged and sold back to us which is, you know, ridiculous. And so how do we also reclaim our ways of healing? Especially our ancestral ways of healing and learn to share with other communities so that these industrial complexes can't just steal our things and put their stamp on it and sell it back to us?
[00:30:19] Melody: So, there's a lot that we can do together, but it requires us to connect and be willing to tend to one another and move away from this individualized way of viewing care, which is 'as long as I'm okay. As long as I get the care that I need, then, then I'm all right.' Because no, we're, we are not all right.
[00:30:38] Nolan: That's a really interesting way of framing it, Melody. And I'm really curious to know what it looks like given-- I, I imagine it's a tough spot to be in with Inclusive Therapists to build this practice that exists within the current system and works to enable people to get access to the care they need. But like you said, it may be this very formulaic or outdated model with how we address mental healthcare needs with maybe far too narrow a perspective, perhaps. What does it look like for a therapist working with you and Inclusive Therapists within the current system, but to find space, to be able to envision and test out what the future of mental health care can look like?
[00:31:19] Melody: Yes. And where we are, it's, it's 'both and.' It's difficult to say, just pick one, that's all also binary thinking. It's how do we, how do we stay fluid and have flow? And on one hand, understanding that we are participating in this field of psychology and that we have a duty there, a duty to care. But at the same time, how do we both learn from our ancestral practices in order to move forward? And I think I'm already seeing it in our communities where folks are bringing and integrating healing practices that have been stigmatized or shunned from their lineages, from their cultures and are sharing it in community with one another. Some of these are sacred, right? Some of these are not necessarily open practices. And seeing the ripple effects of that, that really enables and also empowers other practitioners to say, 'wow, I've been told that I'm not supposed to integrate my culture into my practices.'
[00:32:33] Melody: And now we're saying 'no, not at all. In fact, bringing our full identities, our full selves are benefiting us and our communities and also service users.' And when I was trained to become a therapist, the Eurocentric model says essentially to bring a blank slate into the room that I, as a therapist, should not bring my lived experiences or my personhood in. That never sat well with me because I thought that's, firstly, impossible. And second of all, who does that benefit? And I started to understand actually, what that does is it creates a hierarchy that if I, as a provider, do not reveal anything about myself and pretend I'm a blank slate, then that is protective of me. Meanwhile, the service user is being completely vulnerable and that feels really icky.
[00:33:25] Melody: And so, one part of Inclusive Therapists is offering transparency. The-- on the therapist profiles, we are transparent about the identity parts that we bring in and we invite service users to ask questions, to interview with us, to get to know us, and we even share our journeys with them to flatten the hierarchy, but also to bring our full being hood into the therapeutic setting.
[00:33:53] Melody: And so, I think that is one way of kind of straddling these worlds of how do we practice what we are trained in, but at the same time, integrate our personhood and our humanities into the process.
[00:34:09] Mary: A lot of the banner bearers of these changes that you're revealing and, and bringing to fore are young people. The-the Generation Z, they're the bastions of these holistic and lived experience of purchase that, that you're talking about. And so, I'd love to continue this future forward look that we have, and ask what can young people do to help each other? So, to continue that communal shift, that you've been weaving into a lot of the thoughts that you're sharing, and the other, and potentially, maybe even bigger and greater question here is what can other generations, whether it's young, Older much older-- whichever way we want to take it-- what can other generations do to support that communal shift that these young people are really-- they're carrying the banner for them. So, what can we say to these other generations? And also, of course, Gen Z and the young generation that's really carrying a lot of this.
[00:35:14] Melody: I want to say thank you for future generations, that you inspire me. You propel me and I learn so much from younger generations. At the same time, I feel really tender for younger generations because this need for communal shift is driven by crisis. COVID is a crisis that revealed to us how individualized care does not work. That if we only care about our own wellbeing, we're going to fall apart. And, you know, to a certain extent, a lot of losses have happened because of this mindset, this colonial mindset. And so, on one hand, I'm inspired by future generations. On the other hand, I'm feeling tender that they've had to reckon with this crisis and these traumas and these losses, but I am proud of the fact that many of them are coming together and are tending to one another, and you are the future. And I am doing this work to, um, hopefully leave a legacy for future generations... that hopefully they will have fewer barriers than my generation did in entering this field. And also, in expanding the possibilities of care.
[00:36:36] Melody: For previous generations, older generations, I have one word: heal, please seek healing. There have been so many ruptures and traumas that have happened for previous generations that are unhealed. And because older generations are still hurting, when people are hurting, they also perpetuate harm. They do things like power horde, becoming more greedy and selfish. And we are seeing that amplified during this pandemic. And so please seek care. Heal. For you, but especially for future generations.
[00:37:23] Mary: So, Melody, you've shared these incredible messages to young people and to, to people that need to, for lack of better phrase, get in the same boat and do the healing so that we can get in the boat and take up oars and move it ahead against whatever storm might be coming.
[00:37:44] Mary: And I think about all of the other systemic pieces of this. So, what policy changes need to be made? What, what systemic changes can we look to? Can we start to shift? Where can we level our eyes so that we can see what other changes have to occur around us?
[00:38:06] Melody: Thank you for that question. This is a question I ask myself every day and I think it's, it's a bilateral process. On one hand, there's this dismantling that needs to be done. There are parts of this system that is not serving us. It's hurting us. We need to dismantle that. I'll talk about that, but then there's also the re-imagining and rebuilding that needs to take place. And the first thing I want to advocate for is universal mental health care. That mental health care is a basic human right that should not be dependent on class or race, or these labels that have been put upon us. And that it should be something that everybody should have access to from childhood onwards. And so, this matters when it comes to who we vote for. This matters on a local level, but also, you know, on a state and federal level.
[00:39:10] Melody: And that is, I think one part of it when there's increase of accessibility that is supported by-- I don't know, I have a hard time saying things like, you know, federal government but it is what it is-- but on the other hand, there's also asking the critical questions of who the service providers are. There has to be also decreasing of barriers for people with marginalized identities that prevent us from entering into school, right, from obtaining licensure. And that's a big part of the work that we're doing: to reduce barriers, but also create opportunities so that the field is actually representative of the people that we are serving. And so, there's a lot of work to be done in academics and curriculum.
[00:40:07] Melody: And I think there's so many steps where when we find ourselves in a space, we can ask 'what is my contribution in this space?' If I'm in academia, how can I be an advocate? If I am involved in local politics, how can I be an advocate for mental health care? And then I think lastly, from a systemic perspective, we need to, as a field, really shift away from this Eurocentric models of therapy, which are violent against black indigenous and people of color and people with marginalized identities, queer trans, non-binary folks, neurodivergent and disabled people.
[00:40:50] Melody: We need to reclaim our healing and to say our ancestral ways of healing are legitimate. And how do we amplify our ways of healing, but also resist being co-opted by these systems. And this is the work that I believe can only be done in community. That we can't be reliant on these systems to do it for us. And so, we have a lot of work ahead, but my encouragement is for each of us, look at your surroundings, the spaces that you're a part of, how can you be an advocate and a voice and an amplifier in your existing places?
[00:41:27] Melody: You don't have to stretch yourself too far or too thin. But just focus on the places that you can make an impact and invite others to journey alongside you.
[00:41:39] Nolan: I really love that. And being mindful of time here, I will give us the chance to close out by giving you the space, Melody, if there are any projects or initiatives that you or the Inclusive Therapists team are working on that you'd like to highlight or amplify. And in general, if, if you have any follow-up thoughts on how we as individuals can support patients and mental care professionals who are doing this kind of inclusive and accessible work.
[00:42:08] Melody: Thank you so much, Nolan. Thanks for giving me this space. I'm excited because the Inclusive Therapists team is working on something exciting. We are starting to launch mentalhealthliberation.org. Which is our sibling non-profit initiative that has three purposes. One is we're establishing a therapy fund to offer community funded, mental health care for black indigenous and people of color, centering on those with intersecting, marginalized identities, such as QTBIPOC folks.
[00:42:43] Melody: The second part is we are building liberatory student support network to offer mentorship and peer support for students with marginalized identities that are navigating school and practicums and those challenging things. And lastly, we're creating an equitable supervision circle to uplift and to support those that are emerging in the field so that they can feel supported and grounded in liberatory values as well as they enter into practice.
[00:43:17] Melody: And alongside that, we're going to continue to do our advocacy work for policy advocacy and all of those things that, you know, we do to decolonize mental health care. So, um, invite folks to check out our website, mentalhealthliberation.org. We're on Instagram, MHliberation, I believe, and check out our merch!
[00:43:40] Melody: If you have the means to donate, we invite you to donate. But also, I think what would help us is to share with your circles. If you know folks that are passionate about mental health that would like to participate, let them know. Or if you just know folks that have money, that they want to invest into wellness and future generations, then tell them about us because we need all the support that we can get to do this work.
[00:44:08] Nolan: That's a beautiful message and I really hope that listeners can take that to heart. So, Melody, thank you so, so much for joining us today. I can't tell you how much we appreciate it.
[00:44:20] Mary: Thank you.
[00:44:22] Melody: Thank you so much for having me. It's been a joy and an honor.
[00:44:25] Nolan: So, thank you listeners for joining our conversation with Melody. We appreciate your attention, and we hope you gained some valuable insights from our discussion this week.
[00:44:36] Mary: And if you want to learn more about Melody's network, Inclusive Therapists and its' sibling nonprofit, Mental Health Liberation, which we chatted a little bit about earlier, feel free to visit the websites which we will have linked in our show notes.
[00:44:53] Mary, Nolan, Laquita Ann: You've been listening in with 'Your world, Your Money.' You can find us at ywympodcast.com and stay updated on Instagram at Global Thinking Foundation USA. Be sure to rate and review us and you can reach us with questions or thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our thanks again to Hangar Studios and Global Thinking Foundation. Thanks friends. Happy moneymaking. We'll see you next time.