Did you know that July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?
Watch the video clip below with George White The Speaker for a taste of the positive, powerful discussion at our Black Men Talk About Mental Health and Romantic Relationships.
As you can see, we aim to please and create a safe space whereby men and women can converse on relevant and important topics that can be challenging to discuss.
National emergencies keep catching us with our pants down. In such crises as COVID-19 we learn just how ill-prepared we are. Undoubtedly, we have learned lessons from disasters like Hurricane Katrina when forced to come face-to-face with the eye of such a storm. We know, for example, that the repercussions from lack or scarcity is exacerbated. This applies to scarcity in food, shelter, and other necessities. This also applies to a lack of healthy relationships, thus an uptick in domestic violence. Time and time again we see that an absence of physical and mental health leads to tragedy and even suicide.
Let’s discuss what some consider to be that elephant in the room, mental health. Many of us feel this subject is secondary to standing in a long line for more toilet tissue at Targeé (Target). Trust and believe that your mental health matters. Certainly, it takes precedence over that roll of paper, destined to be soiled, flushed, and never used again. I will not inundate you with more dreary details of Rona’s mental health impact. Rather, I aim to counter myths about mental health support and provide resources to help address what might feel like “the madness.”
Black people make up less than 17 percent of the US population. However, according to the US Health and Human Service Office of Minority Health, Blacks Americans are “20 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult Whites.” So why do we seek help about 50 percent less? Here are some antidotes for mental health myths gone viral:
Myth #1: You are crazy if you seek mental help.
This idea is furthest from the truth. I will not deny that culturally, especially in the Black Community, “seeing a shrink” can carry a lot of stigmas and is seen as “weakness.” I am here to tell you that reaching out for help is a very healthy act, especially before a mental health crisis. We all need help from time to time and being proactive beats being involuntarily committed any day – I’m just saying.
Myth #2: Therapists are too expensive.
Many therapists accept health insurance, including Medicaid, to alleviate barriers to accessing services. Some insurance companies are even waiving co-pays during this crisis. A weekly therapy visit will likely cost you less than your weekly Starbucks’ tab. Furthermore, most employers, whether government, private or nonprofit, offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). EAPs give you confidential access to licensed therapists from two to ten sessions totally FREE and are available to any member in your household.
Myth #3: There are no good therapists available.
It is true that finding “the right” therapist can be as challenging as online dating (a subject all by itself). Nonetheless, there are very good, culturally-competent psychotherapists who are a swipe -just kidding- a click or phone call away. I know that some therapists of color have long waiting lists and you stand a better chance of hitting the lottery than getting an appointment. However, there are therapists like myself who offer telehealth and nontraditional hours, such as evenings and weekends.
Myth #4: You will be alright as time passes.
This is a recipe for disaster or, in clinical terms, a nervous breakdown. No one can discredit the fact that the African American community has a strong case of what I call HTP; a high tolerance for pain. Many of us live by the motto, “No pain, no gain.”
Note: When we ignore the stress and worry, it only gets worse, escalating to fear, anxiety, and depression. Your secret will seep out some kind of way, such as with high blood pressure and diabetes or panic attacks and social agoraphobia. Pandemics like Coronavirus can also trigger past losses, traumas and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
Do you “need” a therapist? Well, I am not here to tell you what you need. That is for you to determine. However, you would definitely benefit, and I strongly recommend that you seek support from a licensed therapist if you answer yes to at least one of the following:
- Do people always seek your help, but you have no one to help you?
- Struggling with grief over a loved one or a major life transition?
- Having panic attacks or feeling very anxious about what is to come?
- Increasingly irritated with your job, people, and/or situations?
- Are you asking yourself is life worth living?
Clinical Recommendations: Handle your mental health with as much care as your favorite people and material possessions because I already know how well you are taking care of them. Prevent the spread of Coronavirus the best way you know how. Instead, spread a smile on your face and others by making your mental health a priority today. Book your free therapy consultation here. Remember, the time is now and the benefits are priceless!