Is therapy a real thing for black people?!

Did you know July is national minority mental health awareness month?! Did you also know that only one-in-three African-Americans who need mental health care receives it? 

Compared to other races, African-Americans are also less likely to be offered mental health services such as therapy or medication to help manage their mental health conditions even though statistically we are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems. 


Untreated mental health disorders can lead to risk factors such as homelessness, substance use, criminal activity, incarceration, multiple inpatient hospitalizations, and higher suicide rates. Mental illness is real and does not discriminate because the color of your skin.


As a black mental health therapist, I am almost always asked by other black/brown people, “do black people ever come and talk to you”? My answer is always;  “YES”! My youngest black client is 6 and my oldest black client is in her 60’s! Clients come to see me to process and learn ways to manage with death/grief issues, life related stresses, family issues, trauma backgrounds such as sexual, physical, or emotional abuse and many more. 


Multiple barriers and health disparities as well as passed down cultural beliefs such as “praying our problems away” continues to hinder minorities overall mental health and quality of life. You can pray to God and go to therapy too! 


So how can therapy help?

Therapy can provide a person a safe and non-judgmental space simply to talk. Being that a therapist does not know you personally, they only can form a perspective about your current or past situation from what you tell them. You and a therapist over time will build a trusted and confidential relationship. Therapist listen to you and communicate back and forth with you during a 60 minute session by helping you change the patterns of your thinking or behavior so that ultimately you change the way you feel. We validate how you feel because we too are real people and can empathize with how our clients feel. We encourage our clients and educate them on effective mindfulness techniques and coping skills.


Facts about therapy/therapists:

Seeing a therapist does not mean you will be harshly diagnosed. You may be experiencing an acute stress disorder or phase of life issue that you want to talk out to a professional.

Although therapist can’t fix your problems they can assure you that we will be there to help you get through them.

Therapist can not prescribe medications. We can recommend them on your behalf to a psychiatrist-they are the ones who prescribe medications. 

Just because you go to therapy does not automatically mean you will be placed on medication. Have an open conversation with your therapist regarding your viewpoint on medication. 

Therapy can be short-term (up to 6 months) or long-term (1 year or longer), it’s all up to you and your treatment needs and progress.

Many therapist allow friends and family members to join sessions, just ask!

If after sometime you still don’t feel connected to your therapist or feel like it is a good fit, you can ask to switch to another therapist! 

Need help finding a therapist? Simply type in google “community outpatient mental health facilities” in the city and state you live and multiple agencies should show up. Just call one and they will give you details on where to go from there! If you have private/commercial insurance you can also seek a private practice therapist!

There are agencies that offer a sliding scale payment option if you do not have health insurance.


If you’re looking for a black therapist in your area try this website, https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/


I encourage everyone no matter the color of your skin to take your mental health serious and to seek a therapist if needed. You never know what you may be holding onto until you release it out loud with someone else. We all should be working towards a healthier and happier us! Remember, your mental health matters! 


Thanks for reading!

Peace, blessings & therapy,

Alicia.

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