Mental health has been highlighted when discussing recent terrorist shootings in Las Vegas and Texas, or when exploring Tyrese’s stability after his recent social media posts regarding his custody battle for his daughter. Too often, mental health becomes highlighted when something tragic happens or an individual displays behaviors that are deemed irrational by others. However, there is a broad spectrum of mental health conditions and behaviors to consider when exploring mental health. An individual can experience high levels of anxiety when engaging with peers, or a new mother may experience postpartum depression after the birth of a child. All of these examples fit under the umbrella of mental health.
I grew up in a time when mental health was not often discussed within my community. As an African American woman, I remember frequently hearing, “What happens in my house, stays in my house!” It was common to identify someone who was struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges, but those conditions often went without discussion or treatment. I recall as a teenager visiting a counselor after being sexually assaulted and feeling as if my seeking support demonstrated an internal weakness. There was and still is a stigma related to seeking help for mental health. African Americans tend to find emotional support through religious channels or family relationships. Although it can be very beneficial to utilize faith and family when working through challenges, mental health professionals can help incorporate additional tools to address mental health conditions.
According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. African Americans sometimes suffer more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers. These severe mental health problems tend to go untreated due to lack of education regarding the benefits of mental health support, financial barriers to obtaining support, and challenges locating culturally competent professionals to offer assistance.
If you or a loved one is seeking mental health support, here are some tips for identifying a professional that can meet your needs. First, do some research and find a professional that will provide an environment that will help address your needs. Websites like Psychology Today, African American Therapists, and Black Counselors can help identify counseling professionals. Remember that you have the right to seek out support that meets your individual needs.
As a counseling intern with Impact Counseling and Coaching LLC, I support individuals who aren’t able to utilize insurance to obtain counseling support. Our office accepts a sliding scale rate with flexible scheduling options and provides culturally competent professionals. We serve Virginia Beach, Norfolk, and Chesapeake residents. Schedule a complimentary phone consultation to explore if counseling support can help address your mental health needs.