Black people are talking about therapy and mental health now more than ever. As a therapist and mental health advocate, this excites me! As a matter of fact, reports predict that the pursuit of mental health care by the global majority / aka people of color (shout out to Karen Hunter) will increase dramatically over the next 20 years!! People of faith are even embracing therapy (grab a tee below). This is all exciting news to me and my colleagues!
Why should people wait 20 years to be their best selves? We have to look forward to what's next phase in advocacy. We've raised awareness, enforced the normalcy of mental healthcare and shot down stereotypes. Because of this, many would think that people of color are flooding into counseling offices handling their marital conflicts, dating dilemmas, mama/daddy issues, etc with the aide of a trained pro....
Not so much.
More of us are, but its only a fraction of how many of us need to. I recently surveyed approximately 300 or so black people and asked "Do you believe you could benefit from therapy?" The overwhelming response was "YES!" About 1 or 2% of the people actually admitted to either being in therapy or having pursued it in the past.
I followed up and asked, "Why, then haven't you gone to therapy?" The vast majority of respondents -in a variety of ways- basically said, "I don't need it." Yet, in another survey of black people, many report childhood traumas, grieving a loss, troubling relationship issues/divorce/break-up, etc. Though informed that these things are taking a toll on their overall mental/emotional health, they STILL do not see this as a reason to go to counseling.
In my pursuit to be on the pulse of mental health with our melanated brothers and sisters, I recognize that the next wave of advocacy is therapy-awareness. As advocates, we've done a great job of educating, we are now tasked with connecting the dots for people of color to make it personal; such that they can see that their personal dilemmas are therapy-worthy.
One of the 1st steps we have to take, and this is a distinct mission of BetterU BetterUs, is putting a focus on emotional wellness...not just mental illness. Too often when the discussion of therapy comes up, the focus is on depression, medication, bi-polar disorder, alcoholism, etc. Whereas, prevention is helping people of color recognize the usefulness of therapy BEFORE their need for it reaches crisis levels,
This is where we are right now. The next wave of advocacy is raising people's self awareness; helping them examine their lives and circumstances and really understand, "Yes, you can go to therapy for that" or 'Yes, you can go to therapy for that even if you're not crying about it anymore."
We subconsciously look at therapy as the emergency room of healthcare. YOU ONLY GO IF YOU'RE BLEEDING OUT!!! NOT SO! Therapy should be used as the annual check-up, brief hospital stay to heal a broken limb, not ONLY the place to go in crisis.
Take One Minute for YOURSELF!
Don't know if therapy would be right for you? Take our One-Minute Self-Check to check the pulse of your emotional wellness. It's 5 simple yes/no questions and should only take about 1 minute to complete.