We had the good fortune of connecting with Jasmine Lamitte, LCSW and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jasmine, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Starting my own business happened organically and by happenstance! I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Director of 20 schools in Los Angeles and I’ve been in the school mental health field for over a decade. When the pandemic hit, our school buildings shut down and I felt that my impact of advocating for mental health was severely limited from the comfort of my own home. So, I started an Instagram page to share tips, resources, and information on school mental health, anti-racism, and self-care in hopes of providing support beyond the schools and team that I manage.
Since I started my page in August of 2020, I’ve grown to over 7,000 followers and have been contacted to provide consultation to schools, presentations to organizations/schools on trauma-informed and mental health practices in schools, and also now have a growing practice providing clinical supervision to other social workers that want to be licensed like me!
With a full-time job as a Director, my personal business often takes the backseat, but my hope is that through this organic growth I will one day be able to make the transition to a full-time entrepreneur and be my own boss!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
How did you get to where you are today professionally? I graduated with my Master’s in Social Work from the University of Chicago in 2010 and I’ve always had a passion for working in schools and helping students remove barriers to accessing their education whether it be the everyday stress of being in school (peer issues, pressure, bullying) or more severe situations (trauma, grief, abuse). Immediately after graduate school I became a school social worker in Chicago where I provided individual and group therapy to students, helped manage crisis, provided resources to families, and helped teachers better support students. In 2012 I moved to Los Angeles doing very similar work but had the opportunity to found a mental health department for 8 schools, which meant writing policies, establishing partnerships with community mental health organizations, and hiring more social workers. Fast forward to now, I am now the Director of Mental Health and we have 20 schools and I have a team of 30 school social workers!
Was it easy?
It hasn’t been an easy road because the work that I am doing as a mental health leader in schools isn’t always recognized or prioritized, but I am lucky that my boss and our leaders in my schools believe that mental health and trauma-informed practices are what students and families really need in order for us to help them achieve their goals.
In order to overcome challenges, I try to operate under the mindset that every day is a new day. Some days will be tougher than others, and may derail the plan a little bit (especially when working in mental health and facing crises on a weekly basis). I try to set weekly intentions and have a daily “to-do” list that helps me to stay on track with what I need to prioritize.
I also quickly identify who are mental health allies and advocates that I can leverage to help promote the initiatives that I want to bring to our schools.
What you are most proud of or excited about?
I’m most proud of establishing our schools’ trauma-informed schools initiatives which has brought training and resources to our staff and students and mindfulness curriculum to all of our schools where students practice deep-breathing to reduce stress and increase focus as well as being the first Charter school organization to partner with the LA LGBT Center’s OUT for Safe Schools program which supports LGBTQ+ students of all ages.
I’m also proud and excited about the reach I’ve been able to establish with my mental health Instagram page @socialworksage! I’ve been able to connect with other school social workers, school psychologists, and school counselors across the country and share tips and best practices to help them in their schools. That has been incredibly rewarding as I can help people beyond those I manage in my own schools.
What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?
I truly believe in the adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” I’ve had to do a lot of squeaking over the years to get backing on my initiatives, funding for my programming and hiring requests, and shifts in the priorities of our schools – but it has definitely worked! If you believe in something or you know something to be needed, don’t give up. Continue to push, reframe, and advocate to anyone that will listen.
I’ve also learned that in this work burnout is common so having a work-life balance is paramount to maintaining good self-care and making your own mental health a priority. Remember your purpose and passion can really help you get through those tough days or weeks.
My motto for working with children and in schools is “heal the heart so the brain can learn!”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Pre-pandemic life my fun times always centered around music! I grew up in a household full of music, I played flute (classical and jazz) from a young age through high school and even performed on stage at Carnegie Hall. My father was also a famous reggae artist in the band the Itals, so I grew up going to festivals and concerts from a young age. I also grew up in a beach town so beach is always on my agenda (Dockweiler is my favorite)!
My husband and I try as much as we can to support Black Owned business in LA, so here are a few that we love:
Poppy & Rose has great food and view in DTLA
South LA Cafe is in South LA and has a great menu and places to work (which is where I live)
Industry Jazz Cafe has an incredible menu and great live music (Culver City)
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would love to shoutout my husband, Rico Lamitte! He currently runs his own media company in the Cannabis industry (Canivision) and monthly Cannabis networking event (Canipreneur) and took the risk of leaving a 10-year-long and lucrative career in finance about 5 years ago to follow his dreams. He inspired me to think outside of the box and encouraged my to take my message about metal health to social media.