Q & A with Cedric Aaron: Mental health and multicultural specialist at HSU

Cedric Aaron began working in Fall 2018, he is currently the multicultural specialist and staff psychotherapist for Counseling and Psychological Services at Humboldt State University. Aaron majored in social work and was astonished at the lack of African American social workers. Considering the demographics in Humboldt county and his love for being a positive help to students and their mental health, Aaron has a passion for bringing in diversity within the social work profession.

On the HSU Counseling and Psychological Services website, Aaron shares that he uses an integrative approach with a multicultural lens. His clinical interests include career/post-grad development, diversity issues, identity development, mood and anxiety disorders, trauma and recovery, working with first-generation college students, students with problematic substance use, problematic anger management and survivors of intimate
partner violence.

El Leñador talked with Aaron about mental health and diversity.

Q: How many resources have leaders of different/diverse backgrounds within the mental health department at HSU?

A: As far as senior staff, there’s just me, but at CAPS we also have a residents program and during my time here, we’ve had residents of color that have been in the space getting their hours in and working towards their doctorate degree. We also partner with the psychology department, working with their graduate students who are wanting to be counselors, and there have been plenty of students of color who’ve participated in that program.

Q: What are the demographics of students that take up the services you offer?

A: It’s not just one group, it’s all walks of life, different shades and different colors.

Q: Do you think counselors of color are able to take a different approach when helping students?

A: I don’t want to overgeneralize so I only speak for myself, I think so. I grew up in the Bay Area in a very diverse community, I’ve been exposed to and lived in a community with diverse folks. My practice is what can I find in common and what can I find as strengths.

Q: Do you have any advice for students on how to take care of themselves during this difficult time of losing jobs, COVID-19, and uncertainty in general?

A: I say be kind to yourself, There’s a lot of pressure from the outside and internally with being a college student. You don’t have to be perfect all the time. If you’re having a day or two where you just don’t feel it, you don’t have to personalize and/or attack yourself. Another piece of advice, don’t try to navigate this stuff alone. If you’re not comfortable talking to CAPS that’s fine, just talk to your friends and your people. Be able to distinguish between folks who are following you that you can kick it and party with and your people, who you can be totally vulnerable with.

Q: What makes these resources a safe space for students to share how they are dealing with Covid and/ or any other things that they maybe going through?

A: There are certain groups that are protective status faculty and staff. So CAPS is one of those protective status groups. We Have mandated reporters in terms of suicide, homicide, harms of others child/elder abuse. But if someone is to disclose that their partner is putting hands on them we don’t have to disclose that information. So in terms of covid, dealing with social unrests, you can share that with your counselor ( with CAPS) and it doesn’t go anywhere as long as it doesn’t break any safety concerns.

Q: Is there any social media students should tap into?

A: So there is CAPS, and If students go onto the caps website and click self-help, there’s gonna be an option that says ‘Apps for self-help’. So folks can download mental health apps. One The page I like on Instagram, it’s called Anxious black girl. She Incorporates/draws comics/cartoons, she shares her journey with anxiety and therapy and it can resonate with a lot of folks of color along with students who just want a student’s perspective.

 

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