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OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE: Trajectory Series
CONNECTING MENTAL HEALTH AND THE TALE OF JOHN HENRY
As a public health advocate and consultant, Kevin Dedner was well aware of the disparities in the health and longevity of black men in America. African American men have the lowest life expectancy of any group…67 years of age. This number is in stark contrast to their white counterparts who see life spans into the early 80s on average.
Dr. Sherman James described this impact as “John Henryism” based on the folktale of steel driver John Henry. As the story goes, John was a black man and the best in the land at driving steel into mountainsides – necessary for the building of railroad tunnels. He was challenged to race a machine – a steam-driven hammer. He defeated the machine, and then had a heart attack and died. Dr. James saw this as a metaphor for the life of the American black man. Basically: work at full capacity ALL THE TIME, with all the extra stresses and striving, which results in a shorter life.
So with this as a backdrop, Kevin undertook his own personal journey in mental health. His epiphany from the experience: finding a provider is a big challenge AND cultural context of your therapy matters.
When his co-founder Oliver asked him if he as interested in digital mental health Kevin knew what his calling would be. Henry Health (named for John Henry) was born in 2018. The company is building a digital platform that provides culturally sensitive teletherapy services. Their first community is, as you would expect, black men. Dan and Kevin talked about his background, the origin story of Henry Health, and certainly the current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic.
What else did they cover? Listen in and find out!
“And so, when I was choosing a therapist, it was literally like eeny, meeny, miny, moe… ”
~ Kevin Dedner
Kevin and Dan talked about his startup journey, as well as:
- Attending the high school where Brown vs Board of Education was tested
- His personal journey with mental health
- How Kevin and his team are coping with COVID-19 crisis
- A shout out to the Transparent Collective
- The “questions behind the questions” from investors
Episode Shout Outs:
Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab
Dr. Sherman James
“We have pointed out a 100 year old problem that payers,
public health leaders are all aware of…”
~ Kevin Dedner
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