“You’ve been discharged,” those were the last words Nicole heard her new therapist say before she was ushered out of the room, given a set of papers and sent on her way back to the crippling daily nightmares, unexpected flashbacks and fear of going back to that dark place …
Nicole had been suffering from PTSD and depression for years and had finally built up the courage to seek treatment. But because she was seen as “high-functioning,” her therapist decided she wasn’t a good candidate for mental health care.
Just like the trauma that had caused her post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in the first place, Nicole felt unseen.
This reality, unfortunately, is far too often the norm for people of color who seek mental health services.
They are turned away, misdiagnosed or even deal with overdiagnosis in some instances, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Black adults are more likely to be prescribed medication and less likely to be given the option of psychotherapy a.k.a. talk therapy.
This, in turn, perpetuates the stigma of mental illness in communities of color. Those illnesses – anxiety, PTSD, addiction, depression and so many more – run rampant and silently, destroying the lives of people just like Nicole, you and me.
As a Black woman and a therapist, I can’t help but think how much we deserve quality mental care, especially during October, National Depression and Health Screening Month.
What’s even sadder is this gap between quality mental health care and the people who need it the most goes beyond negatively affecting our ability to thrive as people of color – it’s physical, too.
The American Heart Association found in a recent study that your psychological health is linked to your heart health.
Untreated mental illness can wreak havoc on your mind, and it can take a toll on your body as well.
The good news is just like finding the right medical provider who understands the unique challenges that come with being a person of color in America can improve your physical well-being – quality mental health care is possible and can do the same.
Look, if you’ve struggled to get properly diagnosed, if you’ve felt challenged by your mental health, if things have been tough – and the health care system hasn’t made things easier, it’s not your fault.
But if there’s one thing I know … it’s that you’re resilient. You can try again.
There ARE mental health providers, such as myself, out here who will work diligently with you to address your pain, help you find ways to relieve your depression and screen, treat and work with you without discrimination.
If you’re feeling hesitant, you can start by scheduling a session here to get an idea of how therapy can feel with a provider that gets you – no strings attached.
I promise to be open, understanding and to listen. Together, we’ll find a way to not just make your life better, but to change the lives of everyone else suffering from the chilling, debilitating effects of mental illness.
If you’ve been struggling with loss of joy, motivation and doing what you normally love to do, you’re not alone. This October, as National Depression and Health Screening Month, reach out and schedule a session now so we can find out how to get you back on track.