"I don't want to keep talking about the gap. We've identified gaps in our own research on Black women and their access to all types of healthcare, not just mental health," says Marie. "I'm tired of talking about statistics. I want some solutions, and I want support for the solutions and the resources."
The solution is creating an environment where Black women have access to physical and mental health care by tackling the inequities in the healthcare system twofold. "First, through our Black Girls Breathing community by providing accessible mental health resources, and second, through House of BGB," Black Girls Breathing's data-driven sister company, "by filling in the gaps in data and research on the demographic...to influence the industry at large through policy and programming."
How Black Girls Breathing plans to meet its pledge
Marie is strategizing for growth goal with five pillars:
1. Expanding virtual breathwork circles beyond the United States
"We have a global community," says Marie. "We've been able to expand into markets because of the nature of online.
2. Launching a breathwork facilitator training program
Marie is working with licensed psychologists and researchers to develop the curriculum. "We plan to base [the program] on research, on science," says Marie. "It's been such a beautiful learning for me to be connected with different Black researchers who were validating my vision and what we're doing, and the conversation that we're having, not only within the data space, but also on the healthcare provider side."
3. Expanding in-person breathwork sessions to different cities
Once in-person sessions relaunch, having a wider pool of Black Girls Breathing breathwork facilitators will allow for expansion within different cities. "Our community was impacted the most, which we saw firsthand, from COVID-related fatalities, so I'm not taking that lightly," says Marie. "I think just being so mindful of how we're being examples of reopening and joining together is going to be so important."
4. Creating different channels for in-person sessions
Marie and her team plan to explore different modes of in-person sessions beyond their current event structure. She's thinking of partnerships with community organizations and a school curriculum to reach younger demographics. "Black girls often have different familial dynamics going on in the house that impact their mental health," says Marie. "We're figuring out how we teach them the tools to help them create a better safe space for themselves, [while] learning how to re-parent themselves and navigate their emotions with the breath, while also giving them access to our community offering."
5. Launching a new technological platform
"I won't be specific about what that is," says Marie, so stay tuned for future updates.
Supporting the pledge
Making this vision a reality will take a lot of support. Marie is looking toward corporate partnerships plus family and individual tax-deductible donations.
"We want partners that are aligned and truly believe in the work that we're doing, and they're not just jumping on a trend," says Marie. "We know right now there's a lot of initiatives to help the Black community, but we want companies that get it and also respect the way and honor the way that we work, as we've been effective in creating trust and engagement with this community, and we plan to keep it that way."
This work is extremely heavy, and as a practitioner, Marie is often talking through her client's trauma and takes on a lot of it herself. With adequate funding, Black Girls Breathing will have the capacity to grow in a sustainable way.
"Honestly, everything boils down to finances and being able to pay for the support in our team to help me so I'm not handling all these administrative things," says Marie. "Yes, the work is taxing, but I can show up and do it, and then close my computer and our operations manager can handle everything after that. That matters because I can't do this alone. Having that support is so crucial, and I think even the acknowledgment of the heaviness of that work that we're taking on is needed and appreciated. I'm not just doing breathwork sessions, I'm running an organization."
Listen to Jasmine Marie discuss the state of mental health with Amanda White and Elyse Fox:
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