While it’s important to prioritize mental health for communities of color every day of the year, it’s especially important right now given a number of current factors (and these are just a few) that have a devastating impact:
The continued murder of Black people at the hands of police, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many others
Increasing evidence that COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Black people, in no small part due to systemic inequities in the U.S., from health care to employment access
Anti-racist protests across the nation that are met with militarized police presence
The replaying of traumatic video footage of police brutality against Black bodies in the media and the emotional labor of engaging on social media as a person of color
The frontlines: Mental health issues already disproportionately affect Black people in the United States.
16% of Black people in the U.S. live with a diagnosable mental illness in a given year, and are more than 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than White people
Racial disparities, systemic injustice and discrimination lead to increased mental health issues, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Black people are less likely to receive mental health treatment: In 2011, Black Americans with depression were about 20% less likely to receive treatment compared to White people
A Mighty voice: Our contributor, Amanda Lynch, explained how racial trauma affects her mental health. “Increased media attention, debates on social media and the release of the videos showing police violence can be detrimental to one’s mental health. Every time this happens, the racial trauma is real. It is also systemic and systematic. We simply can not ignore it.” You can submit your first person story, too.
Where you can find help: If you’re struggling with your mental health, know you’re not alone and help is available. Here are eight mental health resources for black folks looking for more support right now:
1. Free Therapy
Several organizations are providing free access to therapy for people of color. Some offer up to five sessions or a full month of services, many in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, stress is stress. Here’s where to get access:
Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation (up to five sessions)
Therapy for Black Girls group therapy (thanks to Topicals)
BetterHelp (one month free)
2. Find a Therapist of Color
In therapy, working with someone who shares your identity can be validating and restorative. However, there’s a lack of therapists of color in practice: Only 1.5% of members in the American Psychological Association are Black. These directories can help you find therapists of color:
3. The Safe Place App
Created by suicide attempt survivor and mental health advocate Jasmin Pierre, the Safe Place app is designed to support Black people’s mental health. It includes info about mental illnesses, how police brutality and racism impacts mental health and self-care tips.
Get the app here for free.
4. Affirmative Mental Health Orgs
Mental health organizations, like most other institutions in America, are still predominantly created by and for White people, regardless of their intentions. For affirmative mental health support and information, these mental health orgs are geared specifically for people of color:
5. Black Therapy Love App
Tomina Ward created the Black Therapy Love app after her own difficulty finding a Black therapist as a client. Not only can you search the app’s directory to find therapists, users can interact with those practitioners prior to booking an appointment to get comfortable talking about mental health.
6. Liberate Meditation App
Meditation can have many benefits for your mental health, from lowering stress levels to grounding yourself in the present moment. If you’re looking for a new app to try, Liberate was created by and for BIPOC.
8. Don’t Forget the Basics
It may seem simple, but it’s worth repeating: Don’t forget the self-care basics to support your mental health. As Rachel Wilkerson Miller wrote for Vice, making sure you’re eating nutritious foods and sleeping, reaching out to your community for support and limiting your time on social media can do a long way. Here are some other suggestions:
8. Local Mental Health Resources
You may be able to find additional mental health resources for POC in your local community. Ebony created a state-by-state directory and you can search other groups through the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse here:
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What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below.