Why are Some Minority Communities Skeptical of Therapy?

On average there are 132 suicides committed each day. This is the astonishing truth and startling statistics in the United States. However, this issue stretches past the United States and extends globally. The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men, who account for about 70% of all suicide in the United States (2018). But certainly, this is a concern for many other communities and races.

As a minority woman and an immigrant, I am aware of numerous mental health struggles and the suicide rate of the people in my community. I fear that too often, we stay away, not receiving help when it is needed. I have found that there is a stigma in attending therapy, seeking counseling, and adhering to the prescription regimen in minority communities. I know of this through first-hand experiences where friends or family members are affected by mental health issues that often get swept under the rug.

Over the weekend, I listened to a conversation between my father and my aunt on the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Their viewpoints on therapy varied. However, this conversation highlighted a bigger issue at large; the shame associated with therapy and mental health. From my observation and personal experience, there seems to be a hesitancy in seeking out therapy and counseling in our community. This belief is further emphasized at a young age, where you are reminded that whatever happens at home, stays at home. 

As I age, explore different thoughts, read books, interact with different cultures and people, I’ve realized a serious struggle many people of color faced in coping with mental health. This is not to say that other communities aren’t affected as well. I am passionate about equality in healthcare and bridging the gap in health care disparities.

So how do we bridge the gap in mental health access in minority communities?

On a smaller scale, we need to address these issues at the home level. One of the realizations I’ve made this weekend is the need to break the family cycle. Moving forward, I am committed to raising children that have the opportunity to express how they are feeling and how other’s actions affect them. It is at the level of the home that we can begin to break generational obstacles and strong-hold.

Thinking globally, I believe social media is doing an excellent job of countering this problem. Platforms such as Clubhouse allows for interaction with licensed therapists, social workers, psychiatrist, and lifestyle coaches. Resource accessibility has been an issue for many years, however, new waves of resources are being developed. Friends and colleagues sharing their experiences on Instagram live and IGTV aid in spreading useful information to others. These small discussions will amount to great changes by creating a safe space for those coping with mental health.

Also, COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of Telehealth in bridging the gap to accessibility, whether routine medical care or mental health needs. Teletherapy is a great resource as well. If you are looking to speak to someone, try going to Psychology Today Teletherapy, and type in your zip code. A list of therapists will be provided.

I still believe there is so much more we can do to create safe environments for others to heal, grow, and live a fulfilling life. One of my long-term goals is to make health care accessible to minority and immigrant communities, not only for routine care but for a holistic approach to health. Encompassing therapy and lifestyle modification space to build stronger communities now and in the next generation.

Has therapy helped you in the past?

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