Accessible and Supportive Mental Health Resources for Black Womxn
Fact: Black lives matter. Also a fact? Black mental health matters—always and especially given the current climate.
Between the recent unjust killings of Black people, rising racial tensions across the nation, and the seemingly perpetual global pandemic (which, BTW, is disproportionately affecting the Black community), Black mental health is as important as ever. (Related: How Racism Can Affect Your Mental Health)
Now, let's get one thing straight: Being Black is a beautiful experience. But it can also be unbearably hard on your mental health. African Americans are 10 percent more likely to experience serious psychological distress, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and studies link lived experiences of racism and secondary trauma (i.e. exposure to videos of Black people being killed) to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and other serious chronic health conditions. But only 30 percent of African American adults with mental illness receive treatment each year (vs. the U.S. average of 43 percent), according to the NAMI.
There are several factors that can contribute to Black folks not seeking out help, including (but, unfortunately, not limited to) socioeconomic status and lack of access to quality healthcare. There's also the important factor of the Black community's mistrust of the healthcare system. The healthcare system has a long history of failing Black people, by involuntarily using Black bodies for medical research (in the cases of Henrietta Lacks and the Tuskegee syphilis experiment), undertreating Black people for pain, and often over-medicating and misdiagnosing them when they do seek out mental healthcare.
Lucky for you (me, we, Black womxn everywhere), there is a wealth of organizations, professionals, and institutions out there that make accessing quality and culturally competent mental health care easy. All you have to do is scroll down.
Therapy for Black Girls
If you haven't heard of Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. (aka Dr. Joy), it's about time you do. Not only is she an expert psychologist, but Harden Bradford is also the founder of Therapy for Black Girls, an online space dedicated to destigmatizing mental health care and helping Black women find their ideal practitioner. The organization does this through many different avenues and platforms, such as the Therapy for Black Girls podcast—which is what inspired me to seek out therapy myself. Harden Bradford's chats with other Black women in the mental health field helped me realize that therapy could be used as a tool to care for my mental health in the same way I care for my physical health. Since my introduction to their organization, Harden Bradford has also built a supportive social media platform and created a directory of Black practitioners. (Related: Why Everyone Should Try Therapy at Least Once)
Jennifer Mullan, Psy.D., is on a mission to "decolonize therapy"—to create safe spaces for healing and for addressing how mental health is profoundly affected by systemic inequalities and trauma of oppression. Her Instagram page is full of insightful content, and she often partners with women of color in the wellness and mental health community for digital workshops and discussions.
Real to the People
Age is just a number—and that's especially true for membership-based mental health organization Real to the People, which has only been around for a few short months. Founded in March 2020, Real is all about easily integrating therapy into your life—after all, its offerings are virtual (via telemedicine) and free. Yup, you read that right: Real first offered free therapy sessions to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, and now, as racial tensions continue to rise across the country, free group support sessions where participants are welcome to "grieve, feel, connect, and process what they're going through." (Related: Kerry Washington and Activist Kendrick Sampson Spoke About Mental Health In the Fight for Racial Justice)
Brown Girl Self Care
Founder Bre Mitchell wants Black women to make every day self-care Sunday because, let's face it, healing (especially from centuries of unjust treatment and trauma) isn't really effective if you only have me-time every once in a while. Mitchell will fill up your feed with tangible advice and reminders that taking care of yourself isn't indulgent but necessary for you to thrive. And Brown Girl Self Care doesn't stop at social media: the organization also offers IRL and virtual opportunities, such as their Self-Care x Sisterhood Zoom workshops.
Whether you're in the actively searching for a therapist or simply seeking a feed full of empowerment, Inclusive Therapists fits the bill. Just take a look at the community's Instagram: Their grid is filled with mental health-related wisdom, encouraging quotes, and profiles on mental health practitioners (many of whom offer reduced-fee teletherapy). And their posts aren't the only way to find pros that are right for you and your budget. You can also search through their online directory and reach out to therapists directly, or submit a form with details like location and practitioner preferences and get matched with a few potential therapists via email. (Related: How to Find the Best Therapist for You)
The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network
The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (NQTTCN) is a "healing justice organization" that works to transform mental health for queer and trans people of color (QTPoC). Since its inception in 2016 by psychotherapist Erica Woodland, the organization has been increasing access to mental health resources for QTPoC and building a network of practitioners specialized in working with QTPoC, which is available via their online directory. You can also learn more about qualified practitioners and mental health by keeping up with NQTTCN's #TherapistThursday posts on Instagram.
Being part of a community is essential to your spirit and personal growth. And no one knows that better than Naj Austin, who was inspired by her grandmother, Ethel, to create a social and wellness club designed to support and celebrate people of color. Like so many brick-and-mortar locations, Ethel's Club was forced to pivot from IRL to virtual (thanks @ COVID-19) and now offers a digital membership instead. For $17 per month, you can get access to group healing sessions, workout classes, book clubs, creative workshops, and more from the comfort of your home.
The Safe Place
Having an app at your fingertips to lean into when you're feeling angry, sad, happy, or all of the above is a tool everyone can use. The Safe Place app shares statistics on Black mental health, self-care tips, meditation, and breathing techniques you can use at any time, anywhere. (See also: The Best Therapy and Mental Health Apps)
The Nap Ministry
There are few things in life that really make you stop and think, and The Nap Ministry is one of them—at least it was for me. More often than not, Black people don't get to think about resting because we're too busy working hard to gain equity in a world that, unfortunately, hasn't made it easy. Take the ongoing wage gap, for example: Black women earn 62 cents for every dollar earned by a white man, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. So, taking time to rest? Well, it's often an afterthought. That's where The Nap Ministry comes in: The organization encourages Black men and women to examine (and rejoice in) the "liberating powers" and art of naps especially since rest can be considered a form of resistance and is an essential part of healing. Having trouble taking a break? Check out this guided meditation, and don't forget to follow them on Instagram to stay up-to-date on their in-person workshops. (Speaking of pressing pause...quarantine fatigue might be partially to blame for your exhaustion and mood swings.)
The Loveland Foundation
In 2018, writer, lecturer, and activist Rachel Cargle set up what would come to be a widely successful birthday fundraiser: Therapy for Black Women and Girls. After raising thousands of dollars for Black women and girls to receive access to therapy, Cargle decided to keep this fundraising alive and take her philanthropic efforts even further. Enter: The Loveland Foundation. Through partnerships with other mental health organizations, The Loveland Foundation is able to provide financial assistance to Black women and girls seeking mental health services nationwide via its Therapy Fund. Sound of interest? You can apply for the upcoming cohorts online.
The Black Female Therapists
Black Female Therapists' Instagram is a gem—their 120k followers (and counting!) are proof. Not only is their aesthetic calming AF (and filled with millennial-pink hues to boot), but their content is also always on point. Check out their "Let's Talk About…" series, in which Black practitioners offer their expert perspective and knowledge on a range of topics from PTSD to anxiety. While they can't replace actual therapy, these conversations can definitely provide some much-needed insight into what you or a loved one might be experiencing. If you're in search of a therapist, check out their online directory Black female therapists. You can also take a look at the featured bios on their social media pages. (Related: Why Is It So Hard to Make Your First Therapy Appointment?)
The Unplug Collective
Want to see some Black joy and body positivity? Follow this account. Aside from uplifting visuals, you can count on The Unplug Collective to share authentic IGTV videos, such as "Why I Didn't Report," as well as others that validate Black women's experiences. Head to their website, a platform where Black and Brown womxn and non-binary folks can share their stories, read about the community's uncensored life experiences, and submit thier own stories.
Sista Afya is a wellness community that supports Black women by providing affordable services like online support groups, sliding scale therapy options (meaning, the cost is adjusted for what you're able to pay), and in-person group therapy sessions that don't cost more than $35. (Related: How to Go to Therapy When You're On a Budget)
The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM)
The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) is made up of therapists, yoga teachers, lawyers, and activists with one mission—to break down the barriers of Black healing. They do this work by offering free events, such as group meditations and writing workshops to relieve stress and anxiety.
The Mental Wellness Collective
Social worker Shevon Jones is the brains and boss behind the Mental Wellness Collective, an online community that supports women of color's mental health. She hosts free (virtual) social worker roundtables with Black mental health advocates and practitioners to discuss topics like coping with trauma and pain and even offers fifteen-minute meditation sessions. Catch some of the replays here.