York alumna Bri Darboh (BA ’15, MA ’18) has long been fascinated by the brain and human behaviour. As a trailblazer in the clinical neuropsychology field, she is aiming to revolutionize the healthcare industry – in more ways than one.
“York University has long had a reputation for having one of the strongest psychology departments in the country, rife with diverse talent and expertise among faculty ranging from neuroscience to clinical psychology to social psychology,” says Bri. “With this in mind, there was no better place to embark on my educational journey than at York.”
Along with the university’s “immense ethnocultural diversity,” she feels York nurtured her passion for her field and allowed her to cultivate connections she feels will last a lifetime. As a doctoral candidate at York in clinical psychology and clinical neuropsychology, as well as a part-time MBA student specializing in health industry management and organization studies at Schulich, Bri is maintaining a fervent devotion to leadership, social advocacy, and outreach. She is dedicated to health promotion initiatives for vulnerable groups, with a particular emphasis on geriatric, neurodiverse (e.g., autism spectrum), and BIPOC populations in her research and clinical activities. Her passions include empowering and uplifting the growing Black student population and engaging in advocacy work to address the challenges faced by racialized populations in obtaining culturally sensitive mental healthcare.
“I believe that we are in a revolutionary era, in which BIPOC individuals have a larger platform than ever before to advocate for progression towards equality. I pride myself on mentoring aspiring BIPOC professionals in hopes of encouraging more racialized students to have the courage to pursue higher education and shake up the status quo.”
According to Bri, the health disparities faced by racialized populations in accessing mental health services are due in part to the cultural biases inherent to the infrastructure of our healthcare system, as well as the lack of minority representation among clinicians. She aspires to contribute a special fusion of clinical and business expertise to execute systems-level changes related to the equity and diversity of Canada’s delivery of psychological services for all vulnerable populations.
"At the very least, I hope to be a symbol for little Black girls
of the great feats that one can accomplish
regardless of visible minority status."
In line with this goal, after identifying gaps in training, Bri co-implemented a transgender awareness workshop for trainees and faculty in clinical psychology at York. She continues to immerse herself in roles that directly benefit her professional commitment to equity, including her positions as inaugural student representative for the Society of Black Neuropsychology, co-president of Black Students in Psychology at York University, and as a member of the Canadian Council of Professional Psychology Programs (CCPPP) Anti-Racism Working Group.
Much of her knowledge and experience surrounding inequity in mental health care comes from her advocacy work with diverse populations, as well as her direct experience with the psychological healthcare system through her clinical training. However, her recognition about the common devaluation of mental health among racialized populations became clear to her at an early age by hearing first-hand about the experiences and perspectives of other BIPOC individuals, including her African family. She has since been motivated to reframe generations of culturally-informed misperceptions of mental health. Her father – originally quite cynical – has been affected directly by her education and career and is now supportive of Bri’s belief that taking care of your mind is as important as caring for your heart.
“It is one of my most satisfying accomplishments as both a clinician and a daughter to hear him say those words,” says Bri. She aspires to help to permeate this message across diverse communities, and she has now created space to influence. “A career as a clinical neuropsychologist with expertise in health industry management and organization studies will allow me to evoke positive change at a micro-level through direct client care, and at a macro-level through research and institutional reform.
“At the very least, I hope to be a symbol for little Black girls of the great feats that one can accomplish regardless of visible minority status. I truly believe that the systemic barriers in the way are only half of the story; one of the biggest barriers on the path to success manifests in the form of the self-doubt and self-criticism that cripples us from taking the chance and betting on ourselves to strive for our goals. Anything is possible if you get out of your own way and truly believe it can be done.”
Bri was named one of York University's 2022 Top 30 Alumni Under 30. Learn more about the program and the impressive young alumni on the list.