Today is World Mental Health Day and it comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The past few months have been challenging for healthcare workers, students who are stuck at university and are anxious about their futures and workers whose livelihoods are threatened.
For Black women, accessing mental health care is more important now than ever. Black people have watched as a disproportionate number of their loved ones die from coronavirus, all the while witnessing people who look like them be threatened or violently killed – for nothing other than being Black in public.
Black women experience substantially higher rates of mental health issues than white women, and Black people are four times as likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. Yet finding the right psychologist, therapist or mental health worker can be difficult. You might not be able to afford private sessions, or get on the growing NHS waiting lists.
On top of that, Black people face another challenge: in the UK, only 6% of psychologists are from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. If you're a Black woman searching for a therapist or any other kind of mental health resource, it might be difficult to connect with someone who doesn't look like you. Black women may be deterred from seeking therapy if they can't see someone who can relate to their culture or experiences.
Fortunately, there are some organisations which are doing their best to facilitate and create a variety of mental health services specifically for Black people. Some make it easier to find a Black therapist; others offer access to communities focused on different aspects of mental wellness; others still provide yoga or meditation classes led by Black practitioners. Use them, share them and support them as they do their critically important work.
Black Minds Matter is a new organisation launched after George Floyd's death which specialises in connecting Black people with professional mental health services across the UK. It has established a fund which goes towards the costs of these services, such as full therapy sessions with Black practitioners. For World Mental Health Day, the charity has teamed up with Paradym, the world's first Emotional Identity app, which launched in May. Now 2,000 of Black Minds Matter members will be able to have free access to the Paradym app for the next 12 months. The app is free to download and is available on subscription, but if you require free access to mental health support and would like free access to the Paradym app, you can apply here.
The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network (BAATN) is the UK's largest community of counsellors and psychotherapists for those who have Black, African, South Asian and Caribbean heritage. Its website hosts a huge directory of therapists across the UK as well as free resources and services for people of minority backgrounds who are seeking help. BAATN aims to address the inequality of access to appropriate psychological services for Black people.
Therapy for Black Girls is a website with a search function that allows Black women to find in-person or virtual therapy. Founded by Dr Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed psychologist, the Instagram account has garnered over 324,000 followers and provides a plethora of sources, news and advice for Black women. Dr Bradford also hosts a podcast called Therapy for Black Girls, which discusses a variety of mental health issues.
Sad Girls Club is an online platform that brings together millennial and Gen-Z women of colour who are battling mental illness. Its aim is to reduce the global suicide rate while removing the stigma surrounding mental health conversations. It provides mental health services to girls who do not have access to therapy and treatment, and creates real life safe spaces for young women to connect. The Instagram account, which has over 285k followers, shares uplifting content and information on mental health conditions.
Based in the US, Melanin & Mental Health aims to connect Black people to appropriate therapists. The site offers a wide range of mental health resources, tips and advice which are all available to those in the UK. Melanin & Mental Health is running webinars and online therapy sessions during the pandemic and also hosts a podcast called Between Sessions, where Black therapists discuss topics such as how to support your friends during the pandemic and coronavirus anxiety.
This website is a resource for people who are looking for inclusive therapists. "We centre the needs of marginalised populations, including Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, the LGBTQ+ community, neurodivergent folx, and people with disabilities," reads the website.
Sista Afya is a wellness community based in Chicago. It regularly hosts virtual meetings and sessions for Black women across the African diaspora so they can connect with each other and access mental health resources. Their next scheduled session focuses on the protests around the world and will be taking place on 28th June, you can sign up here.
If you know of, or have used, any other mental health resources that are not listed, feel free to share them in the comments below!