Mental Health Awareness Month Is for Black Women, Too
Tips to help you be intentional with your mental health
Let’s be honest. It’s easy to put mental health at the bottom of your priority list. You may be making plans to see family, go out with friends, take a vacation, or change responsibilities at work, but to get all those things done well and enjoy the present moment, you need to learn to put your mental health first. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but awareness is just the first step. Practicing self-care and improving mental health with access to therapeutic services may come easier to those without gender and racial bias obstacles. In fact, Black women experience some of the most social and economic health disparities across the US, including a variety of stressors like emotional trauma that manifests as anxiety and depression, PTSD, alcohol or substance abuse, and other issues.
Mental Health Awareness Month can be used to shine a light on the pressing issues as well as the progress we’ve made. In 2021, the American Psychological Association issued its first public apology to the Black community, recognizing its racist history, acknowledging inequities in quality of care for Black clients and bias against Black students, and presented a resolution to reform and rectify the racial bias in mental health care and treatment. The demand for more Black therapists has increased tenfold since the start of the pandemic and more initiatives for Black students to enter doctoral programs are also on the rise.
Progress is being made on a large scale and we love to see it. This is your reminder that making progress on a personal level is something you need to see, too.
How To Find Your Therapist
From your home internet to your nearest fast food restaurant WiFi, there are many ways to utilize the internet and narrow down your search for a therapist based on specialty, credentials, language, gender, ethnicity, and insurance provider. And with so many options for therapy – from in-person appointments at a local therapist’s office to flexible telehealth options – there is no shortage of ways to get the support and treatment you need. But how do you find the right therapist for you?
Honestly, it comes down to understanding your needs and being honest with yourself about who can best provide that for you. Oftentimes, therapy is seen as a one-size (or therapist) fits all solution. But one key point in finding the right therapist for you is connecting with them on personal levels in experience and culture. Cultural competency alongside evidence-based treatments has been shown to be most effective in connecting with your therapist and making progress in your mental health goals.
Questions to Ask Your Therapist
After finding your ideal therapist, you want to make sure they can utilize your insurance or you can afford their cost per session. Let them know where you are financially as it can be helpful to either accommodate a payment schedule or personally refer you to a therapist that’s a better fit for your budget. Most people stop there, but being aware of your mental health starts with how you approach therapy as a tool to improve your life instead of a band-aid for when life becomes more stressful. Apart from finances, some questions to ask your therapist can include:
· What specialty licenses and certifications do you have?
· What schedule would be most effective for my therapy goals?
· What is your philosophical approach to therapy?
· How will we determine success for my counseling goals?
· How does your worldview affect your approach to therapy?
· What experience do you have with evidence-based treatment for concerns like mine?
· Are you qualified to prescribe medication, if needed?
How To Get the Most Out of Therapy
Whether it's depression, anxiety, stress, or burnout, your therapist can help you pinpoint what is making you feel off-kilter or start uncovering the cause of a deeper problem. As a Black woman, making your mental health a priority is more than being aware of what you need to do – it’s about prioritizing what can help you feel better. Being patient with yourself and being open to the winding road of healing ahead will help you get the most out of each session.
If you are looking to start therapy this month, reach out to KQH Counseling for a culturally-competent therapist who understands the nuances of being a woman of color. And always remember: your feelings matter, you matter, and mental health care is for Black women, too.