Ramona Plummer is a program coordinator with Our Minds Matter, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending teen suicide by supporting student-led clubs in the DC metropolitan area and across the country.
Our Minds Matter was founded in 2012 and originally called the Josh Anderson Foundation to honor the legacy of the executive director’s brother who died by suicide when he was seventeen.
Ramona discovered Our Minds Matter during an online job search. She was ready to advance in her career and knew that she wanted to work with adolescents.
“I felt like God just put it on my lap. I saw what they were doing at Our Minds Matter and I was immediately moved with the impact that they were making,” Ramona says.
Inspired by her mother’s move from Jamaica in search of better opportunities for her family, Ramona always knew she wanted to give back to others.
“I just want to make sure that I’m able to aid in whatever way possible here in America and back home in Jamaica. I’m content with just knowing that I am making a difference in some way,” she shares.
While she originally thought she would become a pediatrician, she switched her focus to nonprofit public health work after a job with Horton’s Kids and an internship with AmeriHealth Caritas.
“That was where the first spark came about because I was able to aid in reducing barriers that some of our members had in regards to them accessing their healthcare,” Ramona explains.
Ramona went on to earn her masters in public health from Howard University where she had the opportunity to learn from advisors Dr. Pamela Carter-Nolan and Dr. Kimberly Henderson.
“They truly are inspirations and are true leaders in the communities they serve,” Ramona shares.
Earning her masters, and completing her capstone project focused on ending social media’s unrealistic beauty standards, helped Ramona learn how to help people in a holistic way.
“One of my mottos is, ‘if I can help somebody then my living will not be in vain. And I’ve just been doing that and I’ve been enjoying that,” she adds.
Destigmatizing Mental Health
“One thing that I love about this generation today is that they are not afraid to have these difficult conversations,” Ramona shares.
Our Minds Matter clubs are run by student leaders because research has shown that peer-to-peer influence is most impactful for suicide prevention. The nonprofit provides each club with evidence-based resources and a mental health professional who serves as the club’s sponsor.
While Our Minds Matter and other public health organizations are working to end the stigma around mental health, Ramona says there’s more work to be done especially in the Black community.
“Our Black men are taught that you don’t need to show your emotions, you’re not supposed to cry and that is why so many of them are suffering because they don’t know how to be in tune with their emotions,” she says. “So that’s why I love the fact that more conversations are being held around these topics specifically in communities where it was shunned.”
Think Outside the Traditional Public Health Box
Ramona says public health is a great field for anyone interested in helping others – but you don’t have to follow traditional routes to make an impact.
“Think outside of the box. Think outside the sectors of epidemiology, and community health and health policy. Think of what it is that you want to do and how you can incorporate public health into it,” she suggests.
While rewarding, working in the public health field can be challenging. Our Minds Matter acknowledges that by providing its employees with resources to care for their own mental health.
“They make it their mission to really make sure that as an employee, you are also doing okay, mentally, physically, emotionally. It really does make a difference,” she shares.
Ramona is able to stay in the work by drawing on her family’s experiences, her own desire to make an impact and the passion Our Minds Matter club members show for discussing mental health.
“The biggest thing that I keep in mind when I am having these challenges is remembering the ‘why,’ remembering why we do this work and also remembering why Our Minds Matter was founded. This is someone’s namesake,” Ramona explains.