It has been stated that there is no difference in the mental issues that Black people experience when compared to the issues of the rest of the population. However, many would argue that Black people undoubtedly experience more stressors than others related to racism, prejudice, medical and economic disparities. This brings about the question of why do Black people guard themselves against therapy when they experience more mental stressors as a whole? Participating in therapy could be the solution to many challenges that the Black community is challenged with such as anxiety, depression, marital and parenting issues.
As the general public is becoming more aware of mental health, it should open the door to have those critical conversations with loved ones and friends. It is suggested that Black people begin to practice better self-care and disregard the stigma surrounding mental health. Taking the first step would tear down those walls of fear and lead to a more healthy well-being. Black people are generally taught to keep their business inside the house or family; however, we have learned that these secrets and behaviors only make matters worse when it comes to mental health. For those who were raised under these precepts, talking to anyone outside of the home about mental issues would be embarrassing and fearful. We must help one another in being true to themselves and dismissing the idea of drawing negative attention to the family.
In addition to the embarrassment and fear of shaming the family or being labeled as “crazy”, many Black people do not seek therapy due to a lack of insurance. The lack of income to pay for therapy out of pocket significantly impacts the Black community. There are also situations where they may not make enough money to pay out of pocket, but make too much money to receive free services. Some employers offer employee assistance programs where employees may receive therapy at no cost to them. Group therapy could be an option as well as it would be cheaper than individual sessions. Some therapist may also offer a sliding scale to accommodate those who have difficulty paying the full fee. Calling therapists and asking the right questions could be helpful in finding the right therapist that is affordable.
Whatever the barrier may be, talking to someone you trust helps to find answers to your questions. Begin breaking down those walls and reducing fear and stigma regarding mental health. There are many Black therapists in the Houston area who are professional, trained, and ready to assist you.
Angela M. Powell, Ph.D., LPC-S, CSC
Dr. Angela M. Powell is a Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Progressive Counseling & Consulting, LLC., specializing in youth trauma, anxiety, and depression.