This month is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and right now, access to mental health care for people of color is especially critical. Black people have been watching as a disproportionate number of their loved ones die from the coronavirus pandemic. They've watched people who look like them be violently killed or threatened — for nothing more than being Black in public.
Finding a psychologist or mental health worker is difficult for many people. Your health insurance may not cover it. There may be no counselors near you. And Black people face another challenge: In the United States, just 5.3% of psychologists are Black; 83.6% are white. That means that if you're a person of color searching for a therapist or any other kind of mental health resource, it might be difficult to connect with someone who looks like you.
That's a problem, since having a therapist of the same race or ethnic background as oneself tends to provide a better "understanding and acceptance of therapeutic interventions and perceived benefit of therapy," reported a 2006 study from the American Psychological Association. In other words, it makes mental health care more effective.
The organizations below offer a variety of mental health services specifically for people of color. Some make it easier to find a therapist of color; others offer access to communities focused on different aspects of mental wellness; others provide yoga or meditation classes led by Black practitioners. Use them, share them, support them as they do their critically important work.
Shine is a website and mobile app that was co-founded by two women of color. It was created in order to fundamentally shif representation in mental health, and the platform centers around advocating for inclusion in the wellness industry. The app is home to a number of meditations and stories that are predominantly written by and voiced by Black women. Shine is free to download and offers two memberships: free and Shine Premium, which costs $53.99 for a year or $11.99 if you pay by month.
Therapy for Black Girls
The Therapy for Black Girls site has a search function that can help Black women find an in-person or virtual therapist. Founder Joy Harden Bradford, PhD, a licensed psychologist, also hosts a podcast called Therapy for Black Girls, which discusses a variety of mental health issues. For $9.99 a month, you could opt into a community called The Yellow Couch Collective, which hosts Q & As with experts from the podcast and brings you together with other Black women.
As the name suggests, this site is a resource for people who are looking for inclusive therapists. "We center the needs of marginalized populations, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, the LGBTQ+ community, neurodivergent folx, and people with disabilities," reads the website.
The AAKOMA Project
The AAKOMA Project has many initiatives, including free therapy for young Black people and teens in Northern Virginia. Founded by Alfiee Breland-Noble, PhD, the organization focuses on youth of color, and "works with teenagers and their families to raise awareness, conduct patient-centered research, and encourage young people to begin conversations in their communities," according to their website. They are also partners of The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, Africa's Health Matters, and Mt. Olive Baptist Church of Arlington.
Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation was launched this past April. Named for the founder Taraji P. Henson's father, who experienced mental health challenges after serving in the Vietnam War, it was created to provide Black families and individuals who are dealing with fallout from the coronavirus pandemic free therapy sessions. According to its website, the foundation is "committed to changing the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging those who suffer with this debilitating illness to get the help they need." Their second wave of registration for free therapy opens up on June 5.
Ethel's Club has physical locations in Brooklyn, plus an online community that's open to anyone who's seeking out wellness, creative, and cultural resources. The social and wellness club offers wellness and workout sessions, livestreamed classes and salons, and a global network — all for a $17/month subscription. Their website says, "We create healing spaces that center and celebrate people of color through conversation, wellness and creativity."
Black Mental Wellness
The mission of Black Mental Wellness is to "provide resources about mental health and behavioral health topics from a Black perspective, to highlight and increase the diversity of mental health professionals, and to decrease the mental health stigma in the Black community."
The site is a good launching pad. It has info about helpful mental health apps and podcasts and literature about specific behavioral techniques. Black Mental Wellness also offers workshops and presentations.
Dive in Well
Dive in Well actually started out as a dinner series of diverse wellness leaders across New York City and Los Angeles. They've since turned those dinners into a movement, and now offer both online and offline experiences, resources, and tools. You can gain access to their e-books on both diversity and allyship by donating to their Ifundwomen campaign.