Mental Health Resources for the Black Community

Married couple in therapy.

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The Black community isn’t any less likely than others to develop mental illness, but Black Americans may lack the resources to get help for their psychological problems. They’re greatly underrepresented as patients, even though some reports say Black Americans experience even more psychological distress than other ethnic groups.

In fact, only half of Black adults with mental illness get treatment, according to the nonprofit organization Mental Health America.

A number of factors contribute to this trend. The legacy of systemic racism in health care has bred distrust in communities of color, for example; and just 4% of psychologists practicing today are Black.

Now, add in the cost of treatment, especially for therapists who don’t accept health insurance, and the difficulty that patients with full-time jobs have scheduling therapy appointments during weekdays. It’s easy to see why obtaining therapy can be challenging for Black Americans.

In recent years, mental health organizations and advocates have made a concerted effort to attract Black clientele—creating directories of providers of color, launching mental health apps, and establishing foundations to ensure that Black Americans have access to the resources needed to prioritize their psychological well-being.

These mental health resources and organizations are striving to destigmatize Black mental health and provide support to the Black community.

The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation

Actress Taraji P. Henson has not only been open about her experiences with anxiety, depression, and grief. She’s also become a mental health advocate for Black Americans.

In 2018, the Golden Globe winner launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, named after her late father whose mental health suffered as a result of his military service in the Vietnam War. The foundation raises awareness about mental health in the Black community and works to reduce stigma about the issue.

The foundation also partners with other nonprofits to provide scholarships to Black students pursuing mental health careers and works to reduce recidivism in the prison system. It also offers mental health services to youth in urban schools.

Over the past three decades, the suicide rate of Black children between the ages of five and 11 is two times greater than the suicide rate of their White counterparts. Black teens are also more likely than White youth to attempt suicide, making outreach in schools a top priority for Henson’s group. 

The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation has also conducted outreach to Black Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has offered free virtual therapy to Black Americans directly impacted by the coronavirus and the racial justice protests that followed the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020.

The Liberate Meditation App

New York-based software engineer Julio Rivera launched the Liberate meditation app in 2019 specifically for people of color. An Afro-Latino, Rivera could not find an online meditation resource designed for Black and Brown people, so he created his own.

Many meditation apps for general audiences may discuss issues such as stress, overwork, busyness, and relationships. Liberate includes guided audio meditations and presentations related to topics including sleep, mindfulness, ancestors, and gratitude.

Additionally, the app provides meditations that touch on the pain of racial discrimination and shows users how to honor and nurture their feelings in the wake of microaggressions (subtle forms of racism) that can take a toll on a person’s mental health over time.

Other meditations on the app encourage users to think of all the people who care for and support them. Although Liberate users come from all racial backgrounds, Black women comprise the largest group of users, according to Rivera.

Black Therapists Rock

With headquarters in Washington, DC, Black Therapists Rock aims to “reverse racial trauma through collective healing.” A book of the same name, authored by 15 Black mental health professionals, debuted in 2018. That effort has blossomed into a Facebook group, a therapist directory, and training events. Black Therapists Rock is a resource for the public and mental health professionals alike. 

Therapy for Black Girls

Therapy for Black Girls aims to make therapy more accessible for Black women and to lift the veil on mental health in the Black community.

The platform includes a podcast hosted by licensed psychologist Joy Harden Bradford that explores topics such as complex PTSD, Black women and intimate partner violence, and talking to kids about race. Therapy for Black Girls also includes a provider directory, a community called the “sister circle,” and a blog. 

Therapy for Black Men

Therapy for Black Men works to change the perception that therapy is a sign of weakness and make therapy easier to obtain for Black men and boys. It includes a national directory of roughly 150 therapists and 30 coaches (providing help for issues such as relationships, weight loss, and confidence-building) who are equipped to provide culturally competent care to Black men.

The organization also provides financial assistance for economically disadvantaged Black Americans, a blog, and articles about topics such as relationships and triggers. 

Therapy in Color

Therapy in Color strives to create spaces for healing with the goal of making sure that Black, Indigenous, and people of color can access psychotherapy by culturally diverse professionals.

Aiming to destigmatize therapy, the organization includes a blog, directory of therapists, and resources to help patients better manage anxiety and other mental health problems. It is the brainchild of licensed psychotherapist Ashley Bryant, who advocates for inclusivity in the mental health realm. 

The Black Mental Health Alliance (BMHA)

With a database of Black psychiatrists, a questionnaire to match prospective patients with therapists, and other resources, the Black Mental Health Alliance promotes and organizes educational forums, trainings, and referral services to support the Black community.

The organization has also provided school-based mental health services, fatherhood initiatives, and after-school programs. BMHA programs and workshops are culturally relevant and address race-based trauma, structural racism, and mental health stigma in the Black community.

Black Mental Wellness

Black Mental Wellness collaborates with community stakeholders to provide culturally relevant educational resources about Black mental health. It offers training opportunities for Black mental health professionals as well as for students interested in pursuing mental health and wellness careers.

The organization also provides fact sheets about mental health problems such as ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorders.

YouTube

Some mental health professionals share their expertise with audiences on YouTube. Among them is Atlanta-based psychiatrist Tracey Marks, MD, who uploads weekly videos about a variety of mental health topics, including mood disorders, personality disorders, medication, and treatment options. With more than a half-million subscribers, Marks is one of the most popular mental health professionals on YouTube.

You can also find licensed professional counselors such as Támara Hill, psychologist Joy Harden Bradford of Therapy for Black Girls, and Black Therapists Rock on the site, among many others.

YouTube is no substitute for seeing a trained psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional. That said, the licensed experts who share their knowledge on the platform can help Black people better understand mental health topics, find professionals who look like them, and connect with other Black Americans interested in learning more about mental health.

Some viewers have their own mental health struggles, while others want to better understand their loved ones' experiences. 

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Article Sources
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  2. Mental Health America. Black and African American communities and mental health.

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  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Alarming suicide trends in African American children: an urgent issue. Published July 23, 2019.

  5. Sturdivant Sani C. Think meditation could help cope with microaggressions? There’s an app for that. Washington Post. Published March 31, 2020.