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To the Sisters ‘Black Women,’ it is okay to seek Mental Health care

by Milicent Atieno
black women

There was a research conducted by psychologists who were investigating the state of mental health for black women professionals, who compared to other demographics get the least support.

The research established that black women, the majority of whom are carrying the yoke of ‘double minority status’ are secretly battling mental health issues in silence. This demographic often has to deal with issues like lower income, poor health, and multiple role strains. They are fighting the ‘double minority status’ of race and gender in America.

According to a recently published study by the American Psychiatric Association:

Of the black Americans in need of mental health care, just ⅓ do get the services.

The lack of culturally competent counselors in mental health care deters most black Americans from seeking services.

When they finally decide to seek mental health care, the physician-patient communication for African Americans differs from what whites get. The physicians are 23% more verbally dominant and engaged in 33% less patient-centered communications with black patients that they are with white patients.

Industry experts in professional psychology agree that black women are not seeking help for the stress, anxiety, and general mental health issues they are facing. They point out the cause for this being the stigma associated with going to a ‘shrink’, the pricing of psychotherapy sessions, and the mistrust.

There’s stigma that’s still prevalent in the black community. Even a basic mental health issue like stress or anxiety because we as people have been taught to be strong, and we’ve been taught to rely on the inner strength of our ancestors and spiritual sources – all of which are good – however when we don’t seek the professional care that we need those resources don’t give us the complete package of care,” said Dr. LaVerne Collins, the interim VP of Foundation and Professional Services for the National Board for Certified Counselors, while addressing a section of the media.

As with the stigma, there are certain demeaning language people use on someone seeking professional mental health. Something that does very little to encourage women of color to pursue help.

We’ve heard people things like, ‘you know she’s not all the way there…’ or ‘you know she’s a little touched…’ We have very unfortunate labels and judgmental statements that we’ve heard our ancestors use because they didn’t have an accurate understanding of mental health,” continued Dr. Collins.

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