Although African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health issues due to various factors, they are also less open to seeking professional help. Just one in three Black people who struggle with mental health issues will seek out the appropriate treatment.
The hesitancy to seek professional mental health is due to a misunderstanding of what mental health actually is, said child and adolescent psychologist Tyish Hall Brown, Ph.D., director of the behavioral health program at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
Many people wrongly think that you only need to see a mental health professional during a crisis, Hall Brown said in an interview onWeb MD.
There is also mistrust of the medical field by Black people due to years of unauthorized experimentation and mistreatment such as the notorious Tuskegee Experiment. During the Tuskegee Experiment, conducted between 1932 and 1972, the U.S. Public Health Service withheld syphilis treatment from Black male patients in Alabama and lied about it.
Patients want a culturally competent counselor. For Black patients, that would mean having a Black therapist. This can be difficult to achieve as only 4 percent of social workers and 2 percent of psychiatrists and psychologists are Black, Web MD reported.
Even if a therapist is found, some Black patients might find it difficult to pay for services. The average cost of psychotherapy in the U.S. ranges from $100 to $200 per session (depending on the state), according to Forbes. Prohibitive insurance costs often make it more difficult for low-income individuals to get treatment. African Americans have the lowest rates of health care insurance of any ethnic group.
“Much of the push back against seeking treatment stems from ideas along the lines of: We have survived so much adversity, and now someone is going to say that there’s something wrong with us,” said former University of Southern California Clinical Associate Professor Ruth White in an article in the college’s blog in 2019. White specializes in stress management, community-based intervention strategies and mental health advocacy.
There is also a belief by some in the community that mental care issues can be “prayed away.” African Americans are among the most religious of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., with 87 percent reporting a formal religious affiliation, according to studies by the Pew Research Center.
One in four people will deal with a mental illness at some point during their lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.
Here are some Black mental health resources in Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, and beyond.
Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) has a Virtual Therapist Network where you can search for therapists and other wellness professionals. BEAM is a national training, movement building, and grant making institution dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black and marginalized communities.
Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory lists clinical professionals, psychiatrists and treatment centers who provide mental wellness services in the U.S. and internationally. You can set the filter to request Black/African-American therapists.
Black Female Therapists connects people with Black women who are therapists. It also has a Black male therapists directory, available here.
Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. They have an online directory of therapists.
The Sid Center, a behavioral health company, helps Black men and boys heal through holistic mental health and wellness programs, products and events. The center “serves the unique holistic wellness needs of Black males using an evidence-based solution-focused approach that addresses the impact that racial trauma, economic disparity and social justice issues have on their health and overall well-being,” according to its website. It serves generations of Black males grades K through 12 and ages 18 and up.
Therapy For Black Families started as an initiative to help Black families (including children, teens, adults, and couples) in Georgia receive high-quality counseling for free while also helping Black providers build practices centered in the community.
Houston health resources
African American Health Coalition: This is a community-based nonprofit in Houston. It is dedicated to promoting healthy lifestyles and advocating for healthy communities for people of African descent.
Eboni Harris is a licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist. Having been featured in publications such as Essence, she is owner at EHMA Services and co-founder of Melanin & Mental Health in Houston.
Mental Health Match, although not Black-owned, you can search for “Black therapists Dallas” and get a list of professionals in the Dallas area. To do such a search, click here.
Chicago health and wellness
Sista Afya Community Mental Wellness is an organization that provides mental wellness education, resource connection and community support for Black women.
Los Angeles resource list
Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) has a focus on removing the barriers that Black people experience in getting access to or staying connected with emotional care and healing. They do this through education, training, advocacy and the creative arts. BEAM is a training, movement for the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black and marginalized communities.
Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation provides support and brings awareness to mental health issues that plague the African-American community. It is named in honor of Boris Lawrence Henson, the father of founder actress Taraji P. Henson. Boris Lawrence Henson suffered mental health challenges and did not have the resources or support.
The California Black Women’s Health Project (CABWHP) is the only statewide, non-profit organization that is solely committed to improving the health of California’s 1.2 million Black women and girls through advocacy, education, outreach and policy.
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