J. Danée Sergeant
Active Minds Speaker
J. Danée Sergeant doesn’t hold back. For years, Danée endured bullying and a gradual build-up of anger. When their mother became very ill, Danée turned to alcohol and drugs to diminish feelings of helplessness and anger. They also experienced confusion about their sexuality, not understanding what it meant to be queer or knowing there were others who shared these feelings.
A slide down to the depths brought Danée to the realization that they needed to make a change or die, so they reached out for help and entered treatment. Today, Danée has graduated from college and is finishing their graduate degree in social work.
Their gratitude for where they are now compels them to give back, and to let others know that it’s not how you perceive your situation—it’s what you do to turn it around. They also remind us that if we’re going to help others, we have to care for ourselves first.
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Danée Sergeant is a survivor of bullying, trauma, homelessness, and substance abuse disorder who lives with Bipolar disorder. Since seeking and receiving the help needed to manage their own mental health issues, Danée now empowers others to speak up, embrace who they are and what they’ve been through, and seek out the help they need so that they can succeed in their academic careers and beyond.
A graduate of Southern University at New Orleans, Danée is finishing a Masters of Social Work degree at Fordham University with a concentration in research. Shaped by experiences of navigating the behavioral health system as a queer and gender nonconforming person of color, Danée plans enter a career in research involving the LGBT population, specifically communities of color.
To maintain emotional health and wellness, Danée regularly attends and volunteers at Rainbow Heights Club, a Brooklyn-based organization that provides advocacy and support services to LGBT-identified mental health consumers. Danée is also a talented spoken word artist! They have discovered that through performance poetry, they can express their innermost thoughts, feelings, and emotions in a way that connects to others. During the summer months, Danée can be found at the weekly rap cypher in Union Square Park in Manhattan.
- Bipolar Disorder
- Criminal Justice System
- LGBTQ Community
- People of Color and Mental Health
- Recovery Through Creativity
- Stigma Reduction
- Substance Use
In this dynamic and entertaining presentation, Danée speaks candidly about their mental health journey, and the incredible odds they overcame, starting in 4th grade.
By using some of their own work as examples, J. Danée Sergeant shows participants the power associated with embarking on a journey through the rhythmic use of words. Each attendee is encouraged to create a unique and meaningful spoken word piece that expresses a significant feeling or emotion that may otherwise remain hidden and unexplored.
Danée travels from New York
“Many of our students are first generation students from often complicated backgrounds who could easily relate to Danée’s struggles. They presented to a full auditorium and made an incredible impression with their message of persistence, hope, and the encouragement to seek help.”
American International College
“We received so many positive comments about Danee on the day of their keynote as well as in our evaluations. We had an audience of professionals, youth with lived experience, and family members of those youth and Danee was able to engage each population. Their presentation was funny, relatable, and also pointed to ways in which the mental health system can be successful and ways in which it can be approved. It was refreshing to have their perspective and I think a lot of the young people in attendance with similar experiences were very moved.”
Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
“Hearing Danée’s presentation and being in their workshop was so inspirational and heartwarming. Their workshop taught me a lot about how to express my feelings in a different way, and gave me an opportunity to put my truth and my voice out there.”
Youngstown State University
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