Racial Identity and Mental Health in Amherst MA

Racial Identity and Mental Health in Amherst, MA

Everyone is susceptible to depression, fatigue, unproductive habits, and unexpected trauma, to name a few, and there are unique issues that communities of color face. Black Americans who suffer from mental illness are often excluded, due to these socially interwoven constructs, from ascertaining therapists, life-coaches, online counselors, and other forms of mental wellness counselling. What discriminating social barricades prevent people of color from accessing basic health services? How does identity affect our chances of receiving services like counselling and therapy? How does stigma affect one’s ability to seek out therapy when they need it?

Our therapists reflect the diversity of our community. It matters that therapists of color are able to share in their client’s unique experiences and discuss matters of racial trauma, police brutality, social unrest, and an array of other obstacles.  Our therapists of color at Amherst Thriveworks can help you navigate your world and develop positive mentalities of growth and purpose by offering counselling with ears and hearts open when it comes to addressing racial, social and personal concerns. We work hard to unlock your drive and happiness in a painful time and will always affirm and nurture your personal identities and multifaceted histories.

Fighting for racial justice and moving toward a more perfect union requires healthy minds and hearts. The Black Lives Matter movement for peace and justice and the Coronavirus pandemic have cast in stark relief the inequities communities of color face. Black Americans and all people of color are disproportionally affected when it comes to health care, and mental health is no exception.

Does racial discrimination in society effect mental health?

Racial discrimination and its effects on mental health begin in childhood and continue through

all stages of life. We can define racial discrimination as actions taken toward a group of people based on being pre-judged based on their social group. These actions unfold in society all around us and can take the form of exclusion, threats, slander and physical violence. A few examples where discrimination based on race manifests in society are:

  • Black students are often assumed to be beyond help or purposefully difficult. Clothing and vernaculars and other aspects of identity are routinely policed, instilling in our young learners of color a belief that they are ‘outside’ of the norm.
  • Our movies, TV shows, social media platforms and national conversations continue to stamp our black youth with negative racial stereotypes that embed themselves and become internalized.
  • Authority figures like police are mistrusted within communities of color because of repeated instances of injustice.

Today suicide rates in black children, ages 5-11, have swelled solidly since the 1980s and are now double those of white children the same age. The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender also plays a huge role in how people of color receive mental health services. To be both lower income and black in America presents challenges unique to that overlapping. Similarly, black women, especially young black women, are twice as likely not to seek mental health care than their white counterparts.

Does racial bias influence access to mental health services?

Negative cultural biases toward black Americans and their mental health anxieties work against people of color when seeking therapy and guidance. A person’s ability to see themselves as deserving of mental health care is diminished when they are constantly surrounded by images, words and sentiments that persuade them to ‘tough it out,’ or ignore their wants and needs. Our therapists at Thriveworks Amherst will work to:

  • Offer validation for your concerns; no concern is too small, no fear undeserving of exploration
  • Help with confusing thoughts that may tell you not to worry about your mental health
  • Combat hopelessness, frustration and distrust
  • Discuss the nature of your depression and ways to conquer it

Do mental health stigmas in the black community influence access to care?

The popular and shared American ideology of individualism comes into play when we look at how stigma towards seeking mental health care within communities of color has developed. Americans value expressions like ‘go it alone,’ ‘carry the weight,’ ‘be a man,’ and a host of other limited and vague sentiments that are not particularly helpful when trying to heal something as serious as your mental health. For men, and men of color in particular, suffering often unfolds out of sight. This stigma of silent suffering is reinforced not only by the belief that men should hide their emotions, but also by a historical distrust of federal and state medical programs and documented unethical practices within the medical community visited upon the black community. Fears of mistreatment, improper diagnosis and outright abuse are therefore not unfounded and should be treated as such. The harmony of many voices in a community can be strengthened when we encourage each other to address mental anxieties.

What are some benefits of therapy and counseling for people of color?

Therapy and counseling can offer people of color who may be hurting a chance to talk and move forward. We are living through a time that sorely lacks in genuine and deep discussion. Our therapists and counselors of color at Thriveworks Amherst can offer culturally sensitive care that is accessible and discreet. Sometimes a safe space isn’t just our bedroom or favorite park, it is a person who can listen and process your concerns and propose a self-care plan that fits you. Small things add up and your mental health is worth your attention. Book an appointment online to speak with our licensed therapists!

Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

People Love Our Providers!

Overall Rating: 5★★★★★ based on 11 5 1 11 reviews. See all reviews
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Rosemary Sheola

★★★★★
Rosemary Sheola is a warm and caring person. She is a good listener and helped me through a difficult period in my life. In her role as a Crisis Clinician, Rosemary has provided critical support to many people in mental health crisis. She brings that extensive experience and knowledge to her counseling practice.
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Yvette Cooper

★★★★★
I have had the privilege of working with, and knowing Yvette Cooper for the last 3 years. Her compassion, caring nature, and knowledge she brings is second to none. Her dedication to her client’s and their well being is something anyone looking for therapeutic services would be happy to find in her. I can’t recommend Yvette enough!
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Kristen Kocot: empathy and integrity in counseling

★★★★★
I've had the privilege of knowing and working with Kristen Kocot, a counselor in Amherst, since January 2019. We met in person after she heard my appearance on SiriusXM's Karen Hunter Show. Since then, we have co-created and presented continuing education material at conferences in Massachusetts. As a traumatic brain injury survivor, I value Kristen's approach to therapy perhaps more than the average person. Her dedication to the whole recovery - immediate release from hospital/clinic, adjustment and acclimation to what life now is, facing the roller coaster that can fuel life post-trauma, pairing the clinical with the personal - sets her apart from many of the therapists I have known. I wholeheartedly recommend Kristen Kocot and sessions with her.
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Dr. Gregory Handel

★★★★★
Dr. Gregory Handel is not only an exceptional psychologist but is an exceptional human being as well. Always going above and beyond to provide support, care, and love for those in need. This man exemplifies all the right qualities of a counselor, he is patient, listens intently, and is honest, always. No matter what struggle or conflict you may have endure or are enduring, Dr. Greg Handel will always do everything in his power to help you through it. Filled with compassion, empathy, and wisdom, there is no one in the therapeutic industry better qualified.
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Sarah Hoxie

★★★★★
Sarah is a strong clinician who responds to clients and families with genuine compassion, sound clinical judgment, and an accessible, caring personality. I trust Sarah implicitly and would recommend her without hesitation.
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Dave Zellmer

★★★★★
I was fortunate to work with Dave for several years in supporting the success of clients. He brings a wealth of experience and training in providing high quality therapy. Dave is one of the most positive, trusted and competent therapists I've known. All would agree that Dave is a delight to work with!
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Dave Zellmer

★★★★★
I was fortunate to work with Dave for several years in supporting the success of clients. He brings his wealth of experience, and training in providing high quality therapy. Dave is one of the most positive, trusted and competent therapists I've known. All would agree that Dave is a delight to work with!
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

clinician character endorsement

★★★★★
Sarah H. has shown to have extensive clinical knowledge. She illustrates sound clinical judgement and extraordinary people skills. Sarah is very passionate about her work and she is always compassionate and empathetic toward her clients and colleagues. Sarah brings a warm, calming presence and it is a great privilege to work alongside her.
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Kindness and Compassion

★★★★★
Sarah Hoxie is a highly skilled clinician who takes the time to get to know each patient and the greater family system. Her compassion, patience, and kindness help patients feel at ease and safe to share their stories. She is dedicated to find the right treatment approach and intervention for each unique case.
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Authentic Support

★★★★★
My wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed Greg's guidance and support in our marriage. He has been knowledgeable and authentic in his counsel.
Thriveworks Counseling Amherst MA

Superb crisis intervention

★★★★★
Our family has benefited numerous times from Greg Handel's wisdom & insight when dealing with anger issues, frustration, disappointment and anxiety!
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Thriveworks Counseling

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