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  • Writer's pictureJen Sims

Show Them Mental Health Is For Everyone!

Updated: Mar 9

What can you do about health inequity? Start by prioritizing your own well-being.

Mental healthcare can often be intimidating for people of color.

Mental health care can be intimidating for people of color.


Numerous studies show that, on average, people of color die from medical complications at younger ages than their counterparts (e.g., Williams & Rucker, n.d.; Reitman, 2023; Lavizzo-Mourey & Williams, 2016; Baciu et al., 2017).


The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated this trend, helping bring it to greater public awareness (e.g. Mayo Clinic, 2022)


The reasons for this health inequity are complex and involve both social and economic factors. Resolving this situation is an ongoing challenge society faces.


The result is that we don’t end up attending to our own health and well-being as consistently as we should, and compounded over time, that means we face greater health risks.


Mental health is no different than any other area of healthcare. It’s a vital component in a healthy and happy life and people of color are at higher risk of not getting the quality care they need.


The “Strong Black Woman”


I particularly think of the many successful, high-achieving black women who have been taught from an early age that they need to fit a certain stereotype: The “Strong Black Woman.”


What does it mean to be a Strong Black Woman?


You can’t show weakness.


Can’t be vulnerable.


Can’t be dependent on anyone else.


Can’t really trust anybody you don’t already know.


Can’t express your emotions — most people wouldn’t understand what it’s like to have grown up as a BIPOC woman anyway.


And you’re not allowed to take care of yourself because you’re too busy taking care of everyone else in the community!


Finding a therapist challenges all of these harmful stereotypes.

  • You have to build trust with someone you don’t know.

  • You have to make yourself vulnerable to a new person who you aren’t sure will even “get” you.

  • Counseling involves learning to express your emotions in a healthy and constructive way.

  • Therapy is about taking care of yourself, so you can feel your best and live to your fullest potential.

Unfortunately, there’s also this disastrous idea that people of color don’t deserve access to high quality mental health care. It’s a dangerous message we tell ourselves and have seen reflected at times in the media.


The consistent human brain


But here’s the thing:


The needs of the human brain are remarkably consistent no matter what kind of body it finds itself in. It still craves connection, validation, growth and self expression. It seeks to understand and to be understood. It has a similar set of needs to the other brains living in heads all around the world.


That means…

  • Everyone deserves access to mental health care no matter what they look like on the outside.

  • Everyone deserves the chance to live a life of meaning and purpose.

  • Everyone deserves the opportunity for growth and healing.


You deserve it too


As a black female therapist based in Fort Worth, I’m passionate about offering quality care to people of color— because you deserve it too.


Having lived my whole life as a woman of color in America, I identify with clients from all backgrounds, including those who are marginalized.


Mental health care is too important to skip. Don’t let anybody tell you that you don’t deserve it, and don’t let anyone convince you that you shouldn’t need it.

Mental health care is too important to skip. Don’t let anybody tell you that you don’t deserve it, and don’t let anyone convince you that you shouldn’t need it either.


Shaping our culture for the next generation


When we neglect caring for our mental health, we are not just harming ourselves.


The next generation looks to us to show them how to set priorities for a good life. They learn what things are most important from observing us.


While you may work hard to earn a living, lovingly nurture your family, volunteer to serve the underserved, and give of yourself to support your community, you also need to take care of you.


"How can I take care of myself?” you may ask. “I’ve got all these people depending on me!”


That is precisely why you need to take care of your own well-being… Because you are so important to so many people!


No one wins when you burn out.

You can’t be there to support anyone else if you let yourself fall apart and burn out. It’s much harder to effectively serve others when you are suffering in silence on the inside.


Indeed…


You are valuable. You are needed, and you are part of something bigger.


To be that strong, successful person, however, you need to prioritize your own basic needs so that you can be the most effective version of yourself.


Therapy can help


Therapy can help you address struggles like anxiety, trauma, depression, relationship communication, setting boundaries, and negative thought patterns.


Therapy can boost both your mental and physical health.


It leads to growth and healing.


Let’s show the next generation that mental health is for everyone!


 

If you have been negatively impacted by issues relating to race or gender, we can help! Please reach out to us and select the “Racial and Gender Issues” checkbox on the appointment request form.






 

References

Baciu, A., Negussie, Y., Geller, A., & Weinstein, J. N. (2017). Communities in action. In National Academies Press eBooks. https://doi.org/10.17226/24624


Lavizzo-Mourey, R., & Williams, D. (2016, April 14). Being black is bad for your health. US News & World Report. https://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/policy-dose/articles/2016-04-14/theres-a-huge-health-equity-gap-between-whites-and-minorities


Mayo Clinic (2022, October 6). COVID-19 infections by race: What’s behind the health disparities? . Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/expert-answers/coronavirus-infection-by-race/faq-20488802


Reitman, E. (2023, May 16). Yale study documents staggering toll of health disparities for Black Americans. Yale School of Medicine. https://medicine.yale.edu/news-article/yale-study-documents-staggering-toll-of-health-disparities-for-black-americans/


Wikipedia contributors. (2023, November 3). Health equity. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_equity


Williams, D. R., & Rucker, T. D. (n.d.). Understanding and addressing racial disparities in health care. PubMed, 21(4), 75–90. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11481746

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