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Meet LaVonna Jackson of Serendipity Speaks in Lithonia

Today we’d like to introduce you to LaVonna Jackson.

LaVonna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I completed my undergraduate studies at Clayton State University earning a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Human Services and my graduate studies at Mercer University earning a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I have worked as a mental health clinician for non-profit organizations, hospitals and correctional facilities. Throughout the years I have accumulated a vast amount of clinical experience working with individuals battling mental illness and emotional problems. As a mental health clinician, I noticed how poor stress management and unresolved emotional issues can often lead to bigger mental health problems, so I desired to find a way that I could contribute in helping people to stay emotionally healthy or at least reduce their stress level. So I created Serendipity Speaks.

Serendipity Speaks offers life skill seminars that focuses on implementing and maintaining the best emotional wellness practices in a variety of settings from churches to business organizations. Serendipity Speaks is also committed to providing practical mental health tips and information via social media to the general public.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I left a relatively stable career as an insurance examiner because I desired to help others. At the age of 35, I went back to college and earned my Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Human Services, after graduating I decided to pursue my Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I was in my final year of the program when I suddenly became widowed after 21 years of marriage, prompting my own emotional crisis. During this time I managed to push through my grief and earn my degree, however, this was just the beginning of my grief journey. During my grief, I faced many emotionally challenges from fear and depression to anger and anxiety. These challenges later helped me to better understand some of the difficulties that my patient’s faced.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Serendipity Speaks – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Stress, both work-related and non-work related can negatively impact an organization’s productivity, morale and overall performance. Serendipity Speaks can help minimize organizational stress by ensuring that each member is equipped with valuable and practical coping skills to manage routine stress.

Whether your organization is a business, church congregation, civic organization, student body or team, every organization is unique. Serendipity Speaks will develop a seminar that specifically fits the needs of your group. Here are just a few examples of topics that we have covered:

• Work-life Balance

• Mental Illness Stigma in the Church

• Handling Stress while Pregnant

• Handling Post Disaster Stress

• Stress and HIV

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I want to help reduce anxiety and depression, particularly in my community because I see that the need is great as well as the stigma of mental health. I am particularly focused on the emotional health of those within my community, letting people know that it’s healthy to express their feelings and unhealthy not to. African Americans, in particular, are less likely to acknowledge emotional problems for fear of being judged, we often ignore or normalize stress. My husband died at age 41 of a heart attack, which was probably brought on by chronic stress. Psychological stress is rampant in my community, I want to make a difference in the lives of as many people as possible.

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