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Coworker Corner: Jasmen Mickey
Growing up in Chicago’s Lawndale community, Jasmen Mickey saw many people struggling with mental illness. But, despite their suffering, they didn’t always seek help.
“There’s this whole stigma around it of not feeling open enough to let people know,” Jasmen explained. “And I was like, well, you know what? I have work to do in my community.”
It was this desire to help that led Jasmen to seek a career in mental health services, though it wasn’t a linear path.
Jasmen graduated from Virginia State University, where she majored in English and minored in education. But after she graduated and began working for a YMCA, she realized that she didn’t really want to teach. Instead, she decided she wanted to get into the mental health field and become a therapist.
“[It’s] empowering people to advocate for themselves and get the resources they need and to be comfortable speaking up about what’s going on with them … I think that’s what got me interested [in the career],” Jasmen explained.
With that in mind, Jasmen applied at St. Xavier University and was accepted into their counseling program. She eventually received her master’s degree in mental health community counseling.
While she was going to graduate school, Jasmen worked in a number of jobs where she could put her passion and skills to the test, including as a youth care worker in a transitional living home for young girls who were wards of the state, as educational youth coach, and as an after-school youth worker at Hephzibah.
And, when she started her practicum in grad school, she worked at HRDI in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, first doing individual counseling and, after graduating, she was hired as an intake counselor. She was eventually promoted to therapist and kept that job until she moved to Indiana. During her time living there, she worked at Regional Mental Health Center as a program supervisor for group homes.
“It’s empowering people to advocate for themselves and get the resources they need and to be comfortable speaking up about what’s going on with them … I think that’s what got me interested in the career.”
When she decided to return to Chicago, Jasmen was drawn to a job opening she saw at Mercy Home. She first heard of Mercy Home while she was growing up—her sister actually dated a Mercy Home resident when she was a teenager—and there were others in her community who were connected with the Home. But it was the position—manager of training—that really intrigued her.
“I always loved working with children because I used to be a child and adolescent therapist,” she said. “I’ve always done clinical work … so when I saw the training position, I was like, oh maybe I can do this. Because within my role as a program supervisor, I had done a lot of training and I actually liked it.”
Now in the position for five months, Jasmen works with our Organizational Development team and trains our coworkers in Mercy Home’s model of care, as well as “everything involved” with Blueprint and Red Cross. She also is on the Speaker Series committee.
“I’m just learning and growing and trying to contribute some ideas and hope they grow,” she said cheerfully.
It’s clear that Jasmen greatly her enjoys her job at Mercy Home through the enthusiasm she has when speaking about it. She said that Mercy Home was the first place she has worked since graduate school that has helped her develop personally and professionally.
“It’s amazing that reading books is a part of my job,” she said, noting that it’s hard to find time outside of work because she is the mother of two young children.
In addition to Mercy Home being a place that encourages its coworkers to learn and grow continuously in their careers, Jasmen is also thrilled to have found a place that allows her to combine her love for education with her passion for mental health care.
“It’s amazing that reading books is a part of my job.”
“It’s like a dream come true, actually,” she said.
“This position is the best of both worlds because I get to teach clinical skills and stuff about the clinical realm.”
Jasmen is also grateful for the supportive group of coworkers she’s found at Mercy Home.