Deciding to start therapy is often the best choice, but it is not always the easy choice. Many people feel a social stigma when they think about scheduling mental health care, but some feel that weight more heavily. A 2010 study found that Caucasian Americans receive mental health care twice as often as African Americans do. There are many reasons for this disparity of care.
Mental health care is often not accessible—either physically or economically—to many African Americans. Further, when African Americans do have access, the quality of care they receive is often lagging. Psychologist William Lawson remembers being taught that African Americans do not develop depression—a terrible falsehood. “Part of it is that many professionals simply don’t know how to diagnose properly African-Americans,” Dr. Lawson said in a 2012 radio interview. However, a shift is changing this phenomenon. Therapists are doing the work they need to do in order to offer quality care to the African American community, and those within the community are responding.
A Washington Post article illustrates this shift. The 2013 piece is entitled, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness,” and it tells about the trend through Jinneh’s story. In high school, Jinneh’s mother died, and she sank into a deep depression. When a doctor prescribed her medication, her family and friends were skeptical. Jinneh did not fill the prescription, and several years later, she was in college and still struggling with depression. It was then that her roommate encouraged her to try again—go see a therapist. This time, Jinneh went, and she found treatment for her depression. Now, Jinneh works full-time as a mental health care professional.
The licensed therapists and counselors at Thriveworks in Littleton, CO hope to join Jinneh’s work and offer quality and accessible mental health care to African Americans.
A Supportive, Unified Community of Care
Friendship, family, and faith are often cornerstones of African-American communities. These deep and rich connections have not always been valued by those in the mental health community. All too often, therapists are set against the care that pastors give, and counselors are set against the support that friends and family members give. Recently, mental health professionals are taking a different approach. They are honoring the importance that these rich community connections offer and working with a client’s community instead of against it.
A supportive, unified community of care can and should look like religious leaders, family members, friends, and mental health professionals working together. Religious leaders can offer care that friends, family members, and therapists cannot. Family and friends can offer care that religious leaders and counselors cannot. Mental health professionals can offer care that friends, family members, and pastors cannot. When these systems of support are focused upon an individual’s best interest and working together toward the same goal, then people often experience exceptional support and mental health care.
Trust and Mental Health Care for BIPOC
The bedrock of mental health care is the trust that is built between a client and a therapist. When clients feel safe and trust their therapist, then they can go deep into emotional wounds together and apply deep healing. Each individual has unique dreams and hopes, opportunities and challenges, hardships and traumas. Mental health professionals are more guides than dictators. Clients often set the pace for therapy, moving forward as they feel safe and as trust is established. In order for that trust to occur, therapists must be open to each person’s unique circumstances and experiences. A therapist’s goal is to create a space where clients feel safe to share openly about anything in their lives—including racial and cultural issues they face.
Some in the mental health field advocate for a “colorblind” approach. This technique may be implemented with the best of intentions, but it ultimately minimizes the importance of an individual’s context. Culture and race are important, both for the client and the therapist. The therapists at Thriveworks in Littleton, CO understand their own cultural biases, and how they might affect the therapeutic relationship. We are committed to facing issues regarding race and ethnicity with honesty, understanding, empathy, and respect.
How Can Counseling Help Me?
When fear and judgment are absent and when empathy and understanding are present, clients often grow to trust their therapist. Every individual’s experiences are unique, but some of the mental health challenges that African Americans have chosen to address in therapy include the following:
- Racial trauma
- Racism and discrimination
- Career advancement
- Grief counseling
- Child therapy
- Sexual identity issues
- Substance use
- Executive coaching
- Anger management
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Eating disorders
- Job loss
- Psychiatric testing
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Couples and marriage counseling
Book an Appointment with a Welcoming Therapist at Thriveworks in Littleton, CO
What is happening in your life? Maybe you recognized something on the list of issues people discuss with a therapist. Maybe something else is going on that feels overwhelming. If you are ready for mental health care, the licensed therapists, counselors, and other mental health providers at Thriveworks in Littleton, CO are ready to meet with you. We offer sensitive therapy, and appointments are available as early as tomorrow.
If you call our office for an appointment, you may want to know that a real person will answer the phone and help you make an appointment. We have scheduling specialists who are ready to help—not automated response systems or voicemail. We also accept many forms of health insurance. Let’s work together. Call today for an in-person or online appointment.