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We grew up in a culture that was very hostile to taking care of our mental well-being. It’s normal for Black women to rely on our families or friend groups to stay strong. Solace was also found in the places we worshiped, with our partners, or within ourselves. We did not visit therapists. Therapy was never something we felt at home with.

Growing up, therapy was not a priority if there wasn’t something explicitly wrong ― and as two high-achieving young Black women, to the world, we were “fine.” Culturally, therapy was not championed if there wasn’t a specific mental issue or diagnosis. Now that we are older, we’ve learned that mental wellness should always be a priority, especially since our experience in society as Black women warrants it.

This stigmatization is beginning to disappear. Although we are starting to see improvements, Black women still face many hurdles when it comes time for us to access mental health services. This is also something we should be aware of.This must change.

The stress of COVID-19 and America’s latest efforts to reckon with systemic racism have thrown Black women’s mental health into a new light. Black women speak up about the dangers they face and how we need to create boundaries for our mental well-being. We’re seeing the beginnings of a new norm that pushes back on the “strong Black woman” stereotype, and makes room for our humanity.

Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, both Black successful athletes have spoken out About the difficulties of managing their mental well-being while on tour. In March, Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle also illuminated the importance of mental health. Even Beyoncé has spoken this year about taking steps to protect her sanity.

Both of us have both sought treatment in the past for one reason or another. Both of us know that Black women, as well as women of color, face unique struggles. Therapists and mental healthcare clinicians who share our identity can better understand these issues.

In our own cases, our issues have included unpacking trauma from experiencing sexism at church without losing one’s faith in God ― one of us needed a Black woman Christian therapist for this ― and going to couple’s counseling with one’s partner to unpack issues around masculinity and Blackness.

Is it possible to accept the racism that one experiences as a Black woman every day? Managing the pressure of feeling like we aren’t allowed to fail at work? We’ve needed to talk about these issues with somebody who gets it.

Black women aren’t a monolith. We’re multifaceted. We all have to experience racism and sexism, and how they intersect, and microaggressions, and any other cultural or generational changes that are specific to Black women.

When you think about baring your soul to someone and getting help with how you process your experiences, having somebody who “gets it” can really help. This helps to relieve the pressure on your social networks and allows you to allow your friends to help with the difficult stuff. It’s where seeking a professional’s help can be invaluable.

This is The problem is that when Black women do overcome the stigma of seeking support, there’s a dearth of culturally competent providers. The American Psychiatric Association According to some estimates, only 2 percent of the 41,000 US psychiatrists are Black. That’s just over 800 Black psychiatrists to serve a population of 42 million Black people, or one Black psychiatrist for every 52,500 Black people.

Also, imagine a football stadium with many people who all depend on one individual for their health. It’s not sustainable.

Money concerns are another factor. And many Black women have told us they simply don’t know where to start their search. We’ve also heard from Black women who’ve found a Black therapist, gone in, had a session and paid out of pocket because the therapist wasn’t in their insurance network. We’ve heard from therapists who tried to get in-network with their patients’ health plans, only to have the networks refuse to admit them because they already had “too many providers” in the area. The thing is, those other therapists most likely weren’t Black.

As a result, even patients who manage to meet with culturally competent therapists can end up saying, “That was amazing, but there’s no way I can continue to come see you.”

It is daunting and difficult to find a Black woman who can help you. The problem is serious. Research shows that black women report more feelings of sadness and despair than those who are white. studiesThis is a. Black adults with mental health issues are more likely than white to get this support.

Because we sought out and pursued the right support, we had the opportunity to be successful in getting the therapy we wanted. We also were fortunate to have the financial resources to continue the process (e.g. Insurance, the time off from work and money for our co-payments. It took a lot of legwork and time. If you’re already in crisis, just thinking about having to do that tremendous amount of work can be exhausting and anxiety-inducing.

Everybody should be able to find the best providers for their specific needs. This includes easy access to culturally-sensitive and qualified providers who respect and understand them.

We want to reduce the number of barriers that Black women face when they decide to seek therapy, so they don’t have to learn the same lessons we did. Black women need to feel understood, seen and heard when they seek mental health services.

Ashlee Wisdom is co-founder of Health in Her HueThe digital platform connects Black women and other women of color with culturally competent and qualified health care professionals, community and content.

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