Hi there, my name is Nikki Delgado and I am a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in chemistry and race & ethnic studies. This past year, I have been working with Ayana Therapy, a new online therapy organization that believes that finding the ideal therapist is a right, not a privilege. The app (which should hopefully launch in a few months) will match marginalized communities with compatible, licensed therapists based on individuals’ unique experiences and identities (i.e., race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender identity). Ayana Therapy emphasizes diversity and intersectionality, as well as providing affordable and accessible healthcare. A large goal of the organization is to reduce the mental healthcare gap.
Ayana Therapy has been an increasingly growing organization. In December, Ayana was featured in Fast Company, which was very exciting and big news! Since the article “This app matches marginalized communities to therapists who share their background” came out, we have received hundreds of subscribers to our website and we were inundated with therapist applications. We received hundreds of emails stating how much people appreciated and needed this type of teletherapy.
Through my remote work as a Research Coordinator, I mainly communicate with therapists and their references to streamline the application process. However, since I’ve been working with Ayana Therapy for a while, I have had increasing responsibilities. For example, I have been training new Research Interns and I have been in charge of creating new recruitment email templates to send to therapists.
I have worked remotely with Ayana Therapy since last June, but in January, I was fortunate enough to visit the Ayana Therapy office in Los Angeles. I finally met my supervisor and the CEO, Eric Coly, and was able to chat with him in person. There were notepads and whiteboards scattered around the office with many ideas floating around. While I have enjoyed remote work, it was great to finally see the office and meet Eric Coly in person.
Working with Ayana Therapy has provided me with a greater appreciation for mental health. While I have enjoyed communicating with passionate therapists and helping form a strong foundation for the organization, learning about the mental health industry has been fascinating. For many people, discussing mental health is challenging and, at times, very uncomfortable. Stigma is an especially large obstacle to asking for help. Cultural differences can affect how stigma manifests in certain communities. Racial/ethnic minorities tend to seek and receive mental health treatment at lower rates than the general population. Mental health encompasses our emotional, social, and psychological well-being, so it is undoubtedly an important aspect of our lives. We need to de-stigmatize mental health and communicate the importance of taking care of ourselves.
I only have a few more months left working with the organization, but I hope to continue learning about mental health among marginalized communities. And I can’t wait for the app to finally launch soon!
Experiences like Nikki’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Mitzy Rodriguez