Depression can feel like you’re drowning especially if you feel as if their is no one around to save you. In 2012 Lauren Carson created a life jacket for young African American girls suffering with mental health issues through Black Girls Smile Inc! Lauren envisioned a society that through the normalization and dialogue surrounding mental wellness, all individuals, including young African American females would be provided the education, support and resources necessary to lead a positively mentally healthy life.
Let’s get to know Lauren a little better…
Black Girls Smile empowers young African American women to take ownership of their mental health and stability, what made you launch this powerful organization?
I was diagnosed at age 15 with clinical depression and suffered two suicide attempts at 19 and 20. After
my second suicide attempt, as crazy as it sounds I decided I wanted to live, and to do that I knew I had to focus on making my mental wellness a top priority. And I did! I graduated from a top university, got a job in NYC at a finance, and most importantly I was the most mentally healthy I had ever been. During this period, I took some time to look back over my mental health journey, and although I came out of it positively, there were many negative points that could have been avoided. I realized I was fortune to have the financial means and familial support to come out of my darkest moments well, but I also realized this is not the reality for so many other young African American females like me. I knew that I had to give my journey purpose that I had to do my part to uplift and empower other young African American women to lead mentally healthy lives. Black Girls Smile Inc. was born, and still today works to educate, provide resources and support to help encourage positive mental health and wellness.
Being a voice in the community motivates others to be great, what type of programs and events does Black Girls Smile host?
Black Girls Smile Inc.’s mission is to promote positive mental health education, resources and education
geared toward empowering the mental wellness of young African American girls. We host various programming events and initiatives geared at educating young African American women on general mental health, illness and wellness. Our signature program, “SHE’s Mentally Prepared” also works with
young women to create a self-care action plan and empowers young women to find creative ways to cope with stressors and practice self-care. We also host Vision Board parties, Book Club series and other various events that promote and empower young women to lead a mentally healthy life.
We tend to pull characteristics from others in our lives or from people we admire, who inspires you and why?
I would honestly say everyone in my life inspires me, from family to friends to colleagues. I have been
very intentional as I have gotten older to ensure I surround myself with people that inspire me in various ways. My mother is and always will be my biggest inspiration. Her compassion, patience (and this is big, I always need to work on my patience), and ability to let others be themselves is something I have always admired and continuously try to replicate a fraction of this in myself.
If you had to give one piece of advice to teen girls who are struggling with being comfortable in their own skin, what would it be?
Take a breath, everything will be ok! I remember the intensity I felt in many situations as a youth, as I have grown and matured, I see the beauty and helpfulness in taking a breath and calming one’s self
down.Putting situations in perspective and being able to cope with life’s stressors is key!
Working with youth both parties learn from each other, what’sone trait you have learned from working with girls?
I am in awe at the reminder of how resilient young women/girl are. Working with youth we are constantly reminded of all of the stressors that enter their lives and have the potential to affect them, however we constantly see youth thrive, grow, learn and mature. I am humbled to continuously work
with youth that display such resiliency and hunger for growth.
We’re all about empowerment at C.O.R.E Mag, what does EMPOWERMENT mean to you and your organization?
Empowerment means sharing to me and Black Girls Smile Inc.’s mission. Young African American girls
and women for too long have struggled with mental health difficulties alone and in silence. We work to
empower/share self-care methods, coping techniques and support to encourage individual and
community mental wellness.
Fun Faves! Fave Food? Artist? Song? Celeb Crush?
My favorite food hands down would have to be hibachi; Japanese steakhouses where they cook in front
of you. I always enjoy it because it’s a communal dining experience, not to mention the food is always
Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire”. I consider this song to be my theme song; an ode to young women and girls
ready to step into who they truly are and share their unique talents with the world. I try to be a Girl on Fire in everything I do.
My celebrity crush would have to be Jesse Williams. Not only is her very handsome, but he has
continued to speak up in Hollywood when others in his industry shied away from racial issues. I consider him dreamy and woke.
Find out more here!