Raquel Martin is a Ph.D. candidate in Medical and Clinical Psychology. Justin Hopkins, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist. Together they host The Black (Un)conscious podcast. Every week Martin and Hopkins discuss mental health difficulties faced by minorities in America.
Martin tells PBJ she decided to start this podcast because there’s a stigma with mental health in the minority community and she wanted to provide psychoeducation regarding the root of mental health disorders. She says the show works because having Hopkins as co-host provides a great balance because “we get a male and female perspective regarding the topic of the week.”
Topics discussed include trauma, relationships, biases, and mental health disorders. Martin says we should profile their podcast because its unique, not only because of the topics covered but also because who it is covered by. “We are both African American, doctoral-level educated professionals, which is extremely rare given that as of 2015 only 6.5% of doctorates were received by African-American individuals. We also have a great dynamic when discussing topics, having a healthy balance between education and disclosure regarding how the topics have impacted our personal lives.”
We agreed. Here is our interview with Raquel Martin and Justin Hopkins. At the end of the interview you’ll find all the links on how to reach them.
PBJ: How long have you been podcasting and when did you start?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: Our first-ever episode was released on July 5, 2018, and entitled “Intro to the Unconscious and Black Self-care.” We planned the layout of the podcast and our first couple episodes for about a month. As a fairly new podcast, we’ve been enjoying the creative process and learning as we go.
PBJ: Why are you podcasting?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: As minority mental health clinicians, we feel a certain responsibility to help de-stigmatize mental health, especially for communities of color. Historically, healthcare systems, mental health included, have unfairly pathologized or mistreated minorities. There’s even more recent research that shows that ethnic minorities are still at a higher risk of being misdiagnosed with more severe mental health conditions. Part of the stigma around mental health that remains in the Black community, exists as a consequence of this history. As clinicians of color, we’re uniquely positioned to educate and engage minority communities in this vital aspect of wellness. We see it as both a privilege and a duty. Also, some Black folks may only feel comfortable engaging in therapy if their therapist is a person of color. When discussing the most vulnerable and sensitive topics, as people often do in therapy, one may fear being misunderstood around issues of race. For some, that fear is quelled once they’re in the office with a therapist of color. Yet there are very very few Black psychologists. Finding a therapist of color can be time-consuming at best, and impossible at worse, depending on where you live. So, we wanted to do more to reach the countless number of people who never make it to therapy, or have been turned off by stigma and mental health disparities. We also want to simply normalize mental health as something that EVERYONE must manage. If you have a mind, then you have mental health. And if you are alive, then at some point, your life will be challenging and your mental wellness will be strained. Simply put, mental health is for everyone and we want to communicate that message loud and clear.
PBJ: What is your podcast about and how did you pick this topic?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: The Black (Un)Consciousis a mental health podcast about living, coping, and THRIVING while Black in America. Using, pop-culture references, current events, research, and clinical acumen we discuss the conscious and unconscious aspects of mental health in the Black community. Because we live in a society that naturally invalidates Black people, we often face additional obstacles to self-understanding, healing, and ultimately wellness. In addition, it has always been part of the African-American narrative to be strong in the face of overt pain and racial oppression. We’ve had to pride ourselves on being resilient, because our obstacles have, and continue to be, immense. Unfortunately, with such resilience and perseverance comes shame about being in pain or struggling. This shame leads to stigma and severely underutilized mental health resources. To put it more succinctly, we have a lot of invisible wounds, and lack spaces to heal. The Black (Un)Consciousis about reversing mental health disparities, combating stigma, and encouraging deep psychological healing in the Black community.
PBJ: Do you have a website or app to host your podcast?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: Yes, we have a website – TheBlackUnconscious.com – where we publish every episode. Yet, we also use Libsyn as our primary host and publishing platform. So, in addition to our website, the show is available on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, TuneIn, and a few other podcast-hosting websites. We’re pretty much anywhere you can find a podcast. Nevertheless, we thought it’d be important to have our own website where we could share more of our content. If you visit our website, you’ll see informational graphics from our Instagram feed, a brief biography of each of us, and a section where people can submit questions for us to answer on the podcast. We continue to think of ways to expand what we have to offer by adding features to our website. It really gives us a lot of freedom to grow and expand.
PBJ: How are you marketing your podcast?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: The majority of our marketing is done through social media. We find that consistently posting content that applies to our target audience has been critical to our growth. Instagram (@TheBlackUnconscious) is our most effective tool, followed by Facebook (The Black (Un)Conscious), and then Twitter (@BLKUnconscious) as a distant third. These platforms also allow us to interact with our listeners in creative ways. For example, we’re in the process of venturing into selling merchandise. In the meantime, we raffled off a free Black (Un)Conscious t-shirt on our Instagram page. Participants could enter by reviewing the podcast on iTunes. This allowed us to engage with our listeners, and also increase the number of our reviews. We’ve also created a media kit, which we’ve been sharing with radio stations. So far, we’ve had three episodes air on Minnesota radio stations KFAI 90.3 FM/Minneapolis and 106.7 FM/St. Paul. The stations plan to air a few more episodes in the near future.
PBJ: How many downloads/listens are you getting?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: Currently, we’re averaging over 1,500 downloads a month. We still consider ourselves fairly new, so we’re excited to see this number grow!
PBJ: What are your biggest challenges?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: One of our greatest challenges is simply finding time to devote to the podcast. We’re both full-time mental health clinicians. Raquel is a Ph.D. candidate in Medical & Clinical Psychology and a pre-doctoral intern at Johns Hopkins, Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. Dr. Hopkins, is a staff psychologist for Georgetown University Law Center where he provides psychotherapy for law students. He also manages his own private practice (Drjshopkins.com). Our days are often long and busy. But we keep in touch with each other on a fairly regular basis to coordinate marketing and social media posts. We make time wherever we can to ensure we build a cohesive brand and remain consistent with recording. Yet, of course we always wish we had more time, in part because we truly enjoy podcasting and also because we’d simply like to do more.
PBJ: Are you making money?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: We are not currently making any money. Since, we’ve only been recording for about five and half months, we have been focusing on managing our brand through social media and putting out quality content that is both entertaining and educational. We are not against monetizing our podcast, in fact we’d like to do so at some point. But we would like to find sponsors that align with our focus on mental health, such as Talk Space, or other organizations that align with who we are. We have not actually made a plan for this thus far, but we are certainly open to it as opportunities arise.
PBJ: What advice do you have for anyone considering a podcast launch?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: Make sure that you are podcasting about a topic that interests you. You will be spending a lot of time, energy, and possibly money on this venture and it will get old really quick if you’re not doing something you enjoy. Research what you will need before starting and don’t rush. Raquel joined the Women of Color Podcasters group via Facebook and was able to network and research a multitude of things that helped with the genesis of the podcast before we even launched. There are so many resources out there, just take the time to do a simple Google search so that you don’t become too overwhelmed in the midst of producing. Also, be consistent with the content you produce. We have found that our listeners look forward to certain social posts we do on a weekly basis. For example, on Mondays we post #MondayAffirmations, offering encouraging words for the week, and on Fridays we post a #FridayFact, offering some novel fact relevant to the Black community. We also publish episodes on the same day each week so our listeners know when to look out for a new episode.
PBJ: What equipment are you using?
Raquel Martin, M.S. and Dr. Justin Hopkins: We are currently using a myriad of different software and equipment. Regarding software, we use GarageBand to record and Audacity to edit. We manage all the editing and recording ourselves. We use GarageBand because it has been the easiest way, we have found, to record two different microphones using a Macbook. As we mentioned earlier, our hosting company is Libsyn. It’s incredibly helpful in posting everything at once without worrying about quality issues. We definitely recommend it. We also developed our website with Wix.com. As far as sound equipment, Raquel uses an ATR 2100 microphone, which has been helpful because it is meant to tune out background noise. Dr. Hopkins uses an Insignia NS-PAUBMD Microphone, which pretty much picks up everything. So, we have to be mindful of our levels while recording. Lastly, we used Adobe Spark to develop our media kit, which is an incredibly easy and user-friendly program.