By Azia Aldridge
February 22, 2023

This month we’re hearing from some of Josselyn’s staff who are proud members of the Black community, and who share what Black History Month and mental health means to them.

This article features Azia Aldridge, Josselyn’s HR & Benefits Generalist.

Black History Month was created to highlight the contributions of African Americans. This month, we celebrate our culture and spotlight the full spectrum, including the positive aspects and the less positive aspects, of being Black and living in America. And while it is undeniable that countless Black people have achieved phenomenal success, I entered the professional chapter of my life with hesitation and fear.

After completing graduate school and earning a master’s degree in healthcare administration, I was worried about how I would be received in the workforce. One of the reasons for my concerns is that I officially entered the workforce in 2020, during a time of heightened racial tensions. Of course, I am not alone in these concerns, as studies have found that “skin tone bias affects racial equality at work.”[1] [2] And being an African American professional, I had concerns like, “Will I be treated with respect? Will I be treated fairly and paid my worth? Will I truly be given the opportunity to be successful?” And, worst of all, “Will anyone hire me?”

Though this experience was anxiety-inducing, I’m happy to report that I was able to secure a position at Josselyn, a Community Mental Health Center, and that choosing a career in mental health has been a breath of fresh air. Those worried thoughts of being accepted and treated fairly due to the color of my skin are a thing of the past for me.

Working in a mental health care organization is extremely rewarding. In my role as a HR & Benefits Generalist, I am able to offer compassion, inspire hope, and provide help to our internal clients (Josselyn employees) to improve their lives.

I am honored to have the responsibility of ensuring that our employees are educated on all the resources available to them. Being able to provide information and help our staff navigate benefits like the Employee Assistance Program, Calm for Business, and short-term disability is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my role. I especially enjoy sharing how these resources can help them manage their own mental health journeys.

In looking to the future, I see my career growth in numerous ways. As I continue to hone my skills and competencies, I envision myself in a role where I can provide guidance and inspire others like me to be successful. I want my life to be an example that others can leverage while encouraging a future generation of Black professionals with darker complexions.

[1] “A comparison of skin tone discrimination among African American men: 1995 and 2003.” National Library of Medicine, April 2015, Accessed February 22, 2023.

[2] “Colourism: How skin-tone bias affects racial equality at work.” World Economic Forum, August 2020, Accessed February 22, 2023.

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