“Don’t talk about it, pray about it.”
“You’re gonna pay to talk to somebody? Talk to me for free.”
“Put it in God’s hands.”
“They don’t need to know all your business, you trying to open a case?!”
These are some common responses I’ve heard in my field of mental health with minorities, specifically within the black community. When I heard clients or colleagues discuss the stigma of counseling in the black community it reminds me of why I need to work as hard as I do, as a “black” counselor.
Within the community there are so many young boys taught not to feel or express emotions. So many young girls taught to be strong and show no weakness for their counterparts to see. But no one says ”you need to see a counselor cause you can’t handle this alone.” It’s not that it’s exactly discouraged but it isn’t exactly encouraged.
Another factor to this issue is the fact that not many counselors look like the clients that need mental health services. In the community you’re taught to help your brothers, help your sisters, they understand where you’re coming from.. and by nature your gravitate towards people like you, but which counselor do you gravitate towards if they’re all Beth’s and Bernards?
I don’t exactly know where the issue really begins.. is it that the process to become a counselor requires a lot of money and education in a system where money and education are disproportionately more available to the majority? Is It the outrageous cost of mental health services and need for insurance? Is It that within the culture you’re told to work it out yourself or with God? Is it fear of the judgement of being a crazy black lady/man, feeding into the “mad black __” mold?
Whatever It is it needs to be worked on. Though the numbers are growing for black people being open to counseling the numbers are still quite low. Though self care and at – home – Pinterest -remedies for mental health can be effective, mental health counseling is still needed and without the stigma. Black parents need to model to their children it’s okay to cry, it’s okay to feel, it’s okay to be vulnerable; you can still be strong, wise, and powerful. Teach your kids to share feelings, identify your triggers, pray and become mindful – and it’s okay if these things take a team. We need to erase past stigma and barriers facing mental health services in our communities.
Let us be mentally strong without the fear of being judged.
An Afro-European, mixed guy from Charlottesville, Va. I’m a empathetic guy with a passion for helping others. I call myself and understanding, sympathetic, empath.. they call me a push over, and I tell them “sorry.” But, really, I care about people and I want the best for them. With my millennial-isms I try to do that in the most strategic and effective way possible. I went to Albemarle Highschool (PWI), North Carolina Central University (HBCU), and Columbus State University (PWI), so I’d say I am pretty cultured.. haha. By education I’m a therapist, by life I’m a human being with feelings, thoughts, and a capacity for greatness. I love to laugh and I’m super witty, so booya. I believe everyone has a story worth listening to and that everyone in the world would love to hear it but the chaos and cacophony of reality makes it hard to hear at times; So here I am on a blog.