Organizations fighting for equity in mental health
The Equity Issue

8 Organizations Advocating for Equity in Mental Health Care

There is a significant gap in mental healthcare accessibility for marginalized communities. This injustice stems from systemic racism, prejudices, unequal opportunities, unjust policies, lack of insurance and affordable healthcare, and the list, unfortunately, goes on.

Many strides have been made to help initiate more equal opportunities within the mental health arena. These achievements cannot be attributed to just one organization alone, but several that consistently work towards filling the mental health gap for underprivileged communities.

It is important to be informed of these platforms, donate to them if you are able, and explore their resources. 

Feel free to explore the following eight organizations that currently focus on fighting for equity within the mental health space for marginalized groups.

BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective)

Handle: @_beamorg

BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective) is a mental health organization that centers on Black communities and supports self-care and growth while providing access to resources that promote wellness and healing strategies for the mind and body. They also promote interventive practices that are tailored to Black culture. 

According to BEAM’s Director of Communications, Dayo Akinyemi, “BEAM is built on the premise that we cannot just rely on psychiatrists, therapists, and social workers for our communities to be able to heal; we need to provide tools and capacity-building opportunities to the entire community”. 

They offer programs, training, coaching, and other resources and education. BEAM’s programs include Black Healing Remixed, which utilizes Black culture and music to discuss topics pertaining to mental health, and Heart Space, a virtual space for Black people that uplifts conversations about wellness, community, and connection.

Dayo Akinyemi, director of communications at BEAM

“Our programs and peer support spaces have been created with the intention of approaching conversations and education around mental health in a way that is accessible and interactive ... We train stylists, coaches, educators, activists, and more on how to respond to mental health crises in ways that center healing and Black culture.

— Dayo Akinyemi, director of communications at BEAM

Over the past year, BEAM has trained more than 1,538 professionals within the community on mental health and healing justice. They provide donation options on their website to support their mission for Black communities and other marginalized groups.  

The founder of this organization, Yolo Akili Robinson, was inspired by Joseph Beam, a Black, gay man who was a visionary, writer, and activist for gay rights as well as feminism. Yolo emphasizes that “the struggles he captured made it clear to me that mental and emotional wellness was of an immediate need for our communities to be able to thrive."

Black Men Heal

Handle: @blackmenheal

Tasnim Sulaiman, the founder of Black Men Heal, is a licensed therapist and counselor who started Black Men Heal to help Black men feel more comfortable seeking mental health care. Black Men Heal’s mission is “to provide access to mental health treatment, psycho-education, and community resources to men of color." Their goals are “remove the stigma, match providers and clients, and eliminate costs." 

Black Men Heal supplies details about events and seminars. They also provide information about Black therapists. They recently sponsored a campaign on their website allowing people to donate money towards therapy sessions for Black men. 

According to their website, “research shows that men feel pressure to conform to traditional gender norms such as toughness, fearlessness, and invulnerability to pain. Unfortunately, many Black men often suffer in silence because of fears that being vulnerable goes against masculinity ideals. Each male selected for the free sessions is essentially encouraged to become a mental health change agent. By one male simply sharing/discussing his experience with other black men, he creates a safe space for another man to step into."

Latinx Therapy

Latinx Therapy is an organization that helps individuals discover Latinx therapists and speakers (who will speak at events) who are licensed counselors and social workers. The premise of Latinx Therapy is to match individuals with therapists through strategic search options. They also are focused on providing a necessary mental health outlet for Latin Americans. 

The founder of this organization, Adriana Alejandra Alejandre, is a 30-year-old Guatemalan-Mexican who is known for her bilingual podcast educating audiences throughout 112 plus countries, about mental health myths and stigmas. Adriana created Latinx Therapy in 2018 after having gone through postpartum depression as a teen mom and then being a therapist and not having reliable resources for her Latinx clients.

Latinx Therapy now offers multiple podcasts, courses, workshops, as well as wellness information and therapy resources, all geared towards Latinx communities. They partnered with therapist Viola Fernandez, MSW, and began a national series called "Together in Estrangement." This is a 6-week support group for BIPOC adults "to share experiences about transforming estrangement into collective healing," and learn about the psychological and emotional impact of estrangement in community.

With over 100k followers on Instagram, they have gathered a large community benefiting from the podcasts and resources offered by the Latinx Therapy team and partnerships.

The Cosmos

Handle: @jointhecosmos 

The Cosmos is an organization based in New York that began in 2018 after a conversation in a coffee shop between two women who just met for the first time. The co-founders Karen Mok and Cassandra Lam connected over the lack of mental health resources for Asian women in America, and how heavily this has impacted their lives. They felt a need to help other Asian American women heal and discover wellness through self-care and mental health outlets. This is when they started a retreat that eventually became a community-centered business offering Asian women the care they have so desperately been yearning for.

The Cosmos now has a community of 11,000 women who are utilizing resources from an idea that started over coffee, transformed into a small retreat, and eventually became a platform acting as a saving grace for many.  The organization focuses on community care, creating virtual and in-person spaces for Asian women to connect with, support, and be supported by other Asian women, as they heal, grow, and thrive in relationship to each other.

Cassandra Lam, co-founder of The Cosmos

Asian Americans are the least likely to seek help, help-seeking behaviors are a very new thing for our community. There are many reasons why—language barriers being a really big part of it and stigmas, absolutely.

— Cassandra Lam, co-founder of The Cosmos

Asian women who want mental healthcare often experience issues like “where do I get this care, therapy is not the only modality, how do you get into other modalities such as holistic, preventative, interactive, and alternative medicines and who will I find that will understand me and not micro-aggress on me, do they take insurance, and are they local."

The Cosmos offers ways in which they “go outside of the system to meet gaps that exist." Through their newsletter, they help wellness practitioners share their life stories, allowing those seeking therapy to feel “safe” and “comfortable” working with them. These practitioners are not limited to therapists but are also coaches, yoga instructors, acupuncturists, etc.

Possessing a holistic view of mental health, The Cosmos understands the strong connection between the mind and body, and how stress is so heavily related to both mental and physical health. They created free donation-based healing circles and group programs that allow Asian women to come together and talk about different topics, such as activism, or connect in a stress-reducing environment. Their most recent initiative is Collective rest, which is a virtual “1-hour guided relaxation practice” acting as a healing space that promotes rest. 

Asians Do Therapy

Asians Do Therapy is a mental health platform that provides information and resources for the Asian American community to discover Asian mental health practitioners. Asian celebrities, such as Sandra Oh, who openly discuss their therapy experiences, are featured on the website as inspiration for the Asian community.  

The founder of Asians Do Therapy, Yin J Li, expressed the need she saw within the Asian community that she sought to fill. Yin explains,  “I started Asians Do Therapy because many people in our Asian community are struggling and suffering, oftentimes in isolation. My hope is that in highlighting Asian people’s experience in therapy and as therapists and sharing culturally relevant information, more Asians and Asian Americans will seek therapy as a resource, available and meant for us."⁣⁣⁣ Asians Do Therapy’s goal is “reducing stigma and increasing accessibility." 

They offer a variety of insights pertaining to the journey of therapy—what therapy is, how it works, does it work, and much more. They also offer guidance in beginning therapy as well as the option to search for an Asian therapist on their website.

Asian Americans are often taught “survival” and to “ignore” mental health issues, but the current climate of growth in accessibility and awareness is allowing this community to gain more exposure to therapists and wellness information. 

Yin J Li, founder of Asians Do Therapy

Therapy is primarily centered on the White, Western, middle-class experience, which is problematic on many levels. And, therapy can be so impactful. Let’s work together towards an understanding and a practice of what good, culturally-informed therapy can look like.

— Yin J Li, founder of Asians Do Therapy

Yin expresses, “I still go to therapy. It continues to be an integral part of my healing and growth.”

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Project is “the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) young people.”

The Trevor Project offers the ability to reach a crisis counselor “24/7 365 days a year”, which they estimate over 200k teens have utilized. They also offer a research center granting teenagers access to information about sexual orientation, gender identity, talking about suicide, and the LGBTQ community. They allow the opportunity to donate money towards The Trevor Project’s initiatives. There are also ample opportunities to be involved as an advocate, fundraiser, volunteer, and worker. Trevors Space is a virtual space for LGTBQ teenagers throughout the world who are between the ages of 13-24, where they can connect with other teens, receive support, as well as discuss their experiences and concerns. 

The Trevor Project began after producers Peggy Rajski and Randy Stone became inspired by the character created by the writer/performer Celeste Lecesne named “Trevor”. According to their website, “Peggy Rajski discovered there was no real place for young people like Trevor to turn when facing challenges similar to his. She quickly recruited mental health experts and figured out how to build the infrastructure necessary for a nationwide 24-hour crisis line, and writer Celeste Lecesne secured the funds to start it.”

The organization was established in 1998, “since then hundreds of thousands of young people in crisis have reached out to The Trevor Project’s multiple in-person and online life-saving, life-affirming resources–Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, TrevorSpace, and Trevor Education Workshops.”

As many as 595k people follow The Trevor Project on Instagram, supporting and utilizing the various fruits of their labor.

Inclusive Therapists

Inclusive Therapists organization is dedicated to providing therapy resources to marginalized groups. They understand that “seeking therapy can be a vulnerable process.” According to their website they “aim to make it simpler and safer for people in marginalized communities. They state, “We celebrate all identities and abilities in all bodies. All people deserve equal access to quality mental healthcare.”

The founder, Melody Li, LMFT, understood the struggle of finding healthcare and being a queer person of color.

Melody Li, LMFT

I became tired of educating my therapist on my multi-cultures, racialized trauma, and what it is like to navigate systemic injustices impacting my communities.

— Melody Li, LMFT

Inclusive Therapists offers the ability to search for therapists located near those seeking care. There is also the opportunity on their website, to be matched with a therapist. They have orchestrated many mental health events that involve therapy groups, workshops, training, educational opportunities, community gatherings, etc. In addition to their events, they’ve created a health blog, event calendar, mental health job directory, and insightful literature pertaining to mental health. 

"People with marginalized identities have disproportionately less access to quality mental health care," Inclusive Therapists' Ginnifer Joe of the department of operations and communications explained. "This problem is amplified during COVID, in combination with racialized traumas, anti-LGBTQ+ rulings, migrant crises that compound on our collective wellbeing."

Per their website, "Inclusive Therapists offers a safer, simpler way to find a culturally responsive, LGBTQ+ affirming, social justice-oriented therapist. We center the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. We amplify the voices and expressions of Neurodivergent and Disabled communities."

Vibrant Emotional Health

Vibrant Emotional Health is an organization that is focused on "promoting emotional well-being for all people.” Vibrant Emotional Health explains on their website their goal of fighting for mental health equality. They express that “over the past year, the ongoing pandemic and its mental health, social and economic effects have amplified existing societal inequities, laying bare that the barriers to accessing emotional health support are not the same for everyone.” 

Vibrant Emotional Health offers support services, community programs, and information regarding policies, advocacy, and education. In addition, they provide stories of hope, some of which are directed to inspired children and young adults, and a blog. They also provide helpline sources on their website, such as NYC Well, National Suicide Prevention, and Disaster Distress Helpline. They collaborated with Disaster Psychiatry Outreach (DPO) to develop The Crisis Emotional Care Team (CECT), a program that offers support for those in crisis. 

Vibrant Emotional Health has gained a community of over 3.6 million people in the past year that utilized their resources. 

They accept donations to help their non-profit organization continue to provide resources to these different communities.

By Tiara Blain, MA
Tiara Blain, MA, is a freelance writer for Verywell Mind. She is a health writer and researcher passionate about the mind-body connection, and holds a Master's degree in psychology.