There is so much stigma against mental health and suicide in the Black and Creole cultures, but many of us are working to break that stigma. I’ve always been interested in mental health. My family moved to Southwest Louisiana over 300 years ago as one of the premier and largest Creole families.
My dad served as the first African American District Attorney in the St. Landry Parish and was integral in forming a drug court focused on rehabilitation. My mom was the working director of the 211 helpline in Lafayette for about 10 years before coming to work at Lines for Life.
In crisis work, you meet people in some of the darkest moments of their lives.
Growing up, I struggled with depression – too many of my friends died by suicide. In 2017, when my cousin died by suicide, I realized I was getting pushed in the direction of mental health. I started volunteering with Crisis Text Line and immediately knew that this work was right for me when I felt the intimacy you experience with the person you’re talking to.
Support sounds different in different cultures.
I’m bisexual and a mixed person of color. I bring a lot of ideas and perspectives that are unique and help inform what I do as a supervisor. Growing up in a bilingual culture, I understand the language barrier that many of our crisis lines staff and contacts experience. It makes people more confident to know that there’s someone who understands them.
Going into calls and supporting people who are experiencing the same identity-based struggles can feel connecting, but it can also feel like extra weight. As a supervisor, my background and identities help me identify areas where other call counselors may need support.
I enjoy working at Lines for Life – and it’s good to see a company that values people of color and gives the same opportunities to everyone.
There’s a quote from Mother Teresa that says, “When you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” I think that’s what we’re doing here.
We take all of that hurt from someone else and give them love, non-judgement, and the space to be themselves and be vulnerable in a way that they can’t be with anyone else.
- Monique, Crisis Lines Clinical Supervisor