by Frankie Abralind
If you get married in Nigeria, you’re going to have a big wedding. There’s no debate. All your family’s going to be there: uncles, aunts, cousins; everybody who’s related to you stays connected and is involved in your business. Nobody does a little ceremony with just a few friends.
Johns Hopkins Pediatric Psychiatry fellow Jason Emejuru, MD, was born in Washington, D.C. shortly after his parents immigrated to the U.S., and he grew up in the warm embrace of the Nigerian expat community. Dozens of people came together to celebrate every birthday party, graduation, and milestone. And they showed up for mourning, as well. “When my grandma passed away, I got a lot of support there, too.” he said. “It’s been instilled in me that you can’t do anything without family.”
The same should be true for medicine, says Jason. Especially mental health care. “Within mental health care, having social support is actually like a luxury in this country. It’s not actually part of the basic 'package' of treatment you will get as a patient/consumer. The patient and clinician are working together in a silo.” But that’s a missed opportunity. “Strong social support should be part of the remedy that the doctor prescribes.”
Jason typically works out of Hopkins’ East Baltimore campus figuring out ways to improve family engagement and family-informed health delivery in their Pediatric Community Mental Health Center. He has a strong interest in neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism and Schizophrenia.
Doing a fellowship with the Sibley Innovation Hub is invigorating for Jason. “It’s a different kind of energy. I get to free myself, to allow myself to think and brainstorm, which is nice. I know that people around me are also interested in innovation so it’s easier for me to make a connection, to just come up and talk to somebody, because that’s what they’re here for. They’re interested in that.”
It’s an exciting time to be at the Hub, but Jason’s research will pause in a few weeks so he can get married. He and his fiancee have ordered an extra large dance floor. It’s going to be a big crowd.
Please reach out to Jason if you have insights or interest in how family engagement can be a bigger part of patient treatment: jemejur1 (at) jhmi.edu. He’ll be at the Hub again on August 31st, and every other Thursday for the next several months, and would love to grab lunch or coffee with you.