Columbia, SC—Mental Health Care for the African American Community
Working with a counselor may be the right next step for you, but taking that step may be easier said than done. For some people, a social stigma holds them back, and some people feel the weight of the stigma more than others. Take, for example, a 2010 study that discovered how African Americans are receiving the mental health care they need at half the rate Caucasians do. Inadequate and inaccessible care are two of many reasons for this inequality. Psychiatrist, Dr. William Lawson explained the dynamic in a 2012 NPR interview. He said, “Dr. Satcher in his surgeon general’s report noted that there was less accessibility of mental health services for people of color for a variety of reasons. Part of it is that many of the systems simply aren’t located proximity to where people of color are.” Dr. Lawson went on to tell how he was taught in medical school that African Americans cannot become depressed, and he observed, “Part of it is that many professionals simply don’t know how to diagnose properly African-Americans.” Many within the African American community and the mental health community are working to change these inequalities by offering quality and accessible mental health care to African Americans.
Jinneh is one example of someone who has experienced both the stigma and the benefits of mental health care. An article published in The Washington Post entitled, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness,” recounts her story. In high school, Jinneh’s mom passed away, and she fought a terrible depression. When her counselor prescribed an antidepressant, Jinneh’s friends and family members talked her out of filling it. As a college student, Jinneh was still depressed when her roommate suggested she start treatment again. Jinneh’s depression healed, and she now speaks publicly about her experience—encouraging other African Americans to seek out the mental health care they need.
Thriveworks Columbia is working hard to ensure that quality, accessible care is available to those in the African American community.
A Unified, Supportive Community
Family, faith, and friendship are the foundations of many African-American communities. Mental health care professionals have not always understood the potential benefits of these rich and deep connections to a client’s mental health. All too often, therapists have set themselves against friends, family, and faith communities instead of working with them. The therapists at Thriveworks Columbia take a different approach. We are on the same team as a client’s support network, and we honor the important role that rich community connections can play in a client’s healing journey.
When therapists are united with a client’s community, each sphere of an individual’s life has a role to play in healing. Pastors can offer a certain type of care. Therapists can offer another type of care, and friends and family members give yet another kind of care. Each is unique, and each is important. Therapy does not have to and should not replace other support networks, but instead, mental health professionals should work alongside them.
Mental Health Care and Trust
In any therapeutic relationship, trust is paramount. Everyone deserves a safe place where they can share their true selves without fear and without being judged. People are whole beings, and their race, ethnicity, and cultural context will be a part of their experiences, challenges, hopes, hardships, traumas, opportunities, and dreams. Some therapists take a “colorblind” approach to a client’s racial context, but this minimizes an important aspect of their identity and their experiences. Instead, the therapists at Thriveworks Columbia advocate for understanding and empathy. We believe this approach builds the trust necessary for a healing therapeutic relationship.
When a client trusts their therapists, they are often able to delve deeply into their psychological wounds and find healing. Each client has unique wounds, and therapy should be personalized. Therapists are not dictators, but they are guides. Clients set the pace and take steps forward when they are ready. As clients feel empathy and respect instead of fear or judgment, they may experience deep healing. No list could ever contain all the issues a client may raise, but many times, African Americans use their time in therapy to seek help and healing for…
- Racial trauma
- Grief counseling
- Career advancement
- Sexual identity issues
- Child therapy
- Substance use
- Executive coaching
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Anger management
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Eating disorders
- Psychiatric testing
- Job loss
- Couples and marriage counseling
Scheduling Therapy at Thriveworks Columbia
Take a moment to think about what is happening in your life right now. Maybe you recognize something on the previous list. Maybe you do not. Maybe you are facing something not listed. Whatever is happening, know that if you want to walk through it with the help of a mental health care professional, the therapists at Thriveworks Columbia are ready to help. We have appointments available.
When you call our office to schedule a therapy appointment, know that one of our scheduling specialists will answer your call and help you make an appointment. You will not be sent to a voicemail or an automated response system. Your first appointment may be within 24 hours. We do not keep a wait list, so you will not be put on one. But we offer evening and weekend sessions. We also accept many different insurance plans. Let’s work together. Call today.