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S1E8: Advocating for Minority Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

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Episode Notes:

If we want to be inclusive leaders at work and in our communities, we also need to be allies and advocates for those who experience mental illness.

In this episode, we are joined by two guest experts and advocates who are using nontraditional means to raise mental health awareness. First, we hear from Dr. Jonathan Singer, Associate Professor of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago and President of the American Association of Suicidology who leverages social media to make suicide and mental health research accessible. Next, we connect with Dior Vargas, a Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist who is working to make mental illness awareness more inclusive through a grassroots initiative called the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project.

About Jonathan Singer

Dr. Jonathan Singer is associate professor of social work at Loyola University Chicago, President of the American Association of Suicidology, and coauthor of Suicide in Schools: A Practitioner's Guide to Multi-level Prevention, Assessment, Intervention, and Postvention. For the past 23 years, Dr. Singer has been a community mental health clinician, educator and researcher, much of that time providing crisis services to suicidal youth and their families. His clinical and research interests focus on interventions for suicidal and cyberbullied youth; service access and service utilization; and use of technology in education and clinical practice. He is has given hundreds of presentations to the U.S. Military, community mental health agencies, school districts, and national professional organizations on topics ranging from youth suicide and cyberbullying to ethics, mental health, technology, social media, and adolescent development. He is certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and and trained in Attachment-based Family Therapy (ABFT) for depressed and suicidal youth and Solution-Focused Therapy. He is the author of over 65 publications. His research has been featured in national and international media outlets like NPR, Fox, Time Magazine, and The Guardian. He is a founding member of #SPSM, an online suicide prevention social media community; the Treasurer for the international organization Human Services Information Technology Association; and co-lead for the Social Work Grand Challenge initiative "Harness Technology for Social Good."

He is the founder and host of the award winning Social Work Podcast, the first podcast by and for social workers. The Social Work Podcast has over 32,000 followers on social media and a million podcast episode downloads per year. He lives in Evanston, IL with his wife and three children.

Jonathan can be found on Twitter as @socworkpodcast and Facebook at

About Dior Vargas

Dior Vargas, MS, MPH is a Latina Feminist Mental Health Activist. She lives with depression, anxiety, and traits of borderline personality disorder, and she is a suicide attempt survivor. She is the creator of the People of Color and Mental Illness Photo Project, a response to the invisibility of people of color in the media representation of mental illness. She is also the editor of The Color of My Mind, a photo essay book based on the photo project.

Dior tours the country giving keynotes, hosting workshops, and speaking on panels. Her work and insight have been covered in media outlets such as The New York Times, USA Today, Forbes, Newsweek, and NBC News Latino. Dior is the recipient of numerous awards including, The White House Champion of Change for Disability Advocacy Across Generations under the Obama Administration. Dior has a BA in the Study of Women and Gender from Smith College, an MS in Publishing from Pace University, and an MPH from New York University. She is a native New Yorker and currently lives in New York City.

Learn more about Dior at, or follow her on Twitter: @diorvargas, or Instagram: @dior_vargas.


Episode Transcript

Apologies for the delay. The full transcript is coming shortly!


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