Seeing a professional therapist is not bad at all, just like seeing a doctor is not bad if you twist your leg and broke a bone. But when it comes to our health, some of us view the body and mind with a different perspective in terms of value. It draws a conclusion that our physical health is more important to check on – in comparison to our mental health, where in essence, both our mental and physical health requires the same attention and care.  Mental health is prevalent in the Black community in which most people are affected by it and are in some form of denial with the issue. Despite the commonality of mental health issues such as depression and anxiety in our community, the stigmatization surrounding it are eluded by most people to address the matter. Individuals then find themselves unaware of its meaning which causes such folks to live life in silent pain.

“Depression is a silent killer in the youth community. It kills esteem, it kills motivation, and it kill dreams. But it is only able to destroy these things because it kills hope. And in a world where so many young people already exists in environments where they are not expected to make it, we now have hopelessness on top of hopelessness. These conditions turn our community’s best  into candidates for suicide-for no other reason than because we fail to accept and address depression in young people as real. If we can spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically address and treat depression, we will witness resurrection of hope in our children that will not only save their lives, but also change the future for the better.                                                                             

  -Jeff Johnson, Former Bet Host and Producer

When we hear the word “Therapy” the one thing that comes to mind is how people will look at us if we choose to proceed that route; And so, we say things like:

“ Oh, they’re going to think I’m crazy, I’ll pass.”

“Man, I’m just going to keep praying and sleep it out. This phase will pass.”

“That’s for white folks.”

“Those therapist/psychiatrist won’t understand my struggle.  They don’t even know me!”

“What do I look like talking about my whole life to someone I don’t even know?!”

“Girl, you better shake it off. It’s nothing.”

“Me? Have a mental problem? *Laughs* Naw, my mind be trippin’ sometimes or what not, but I’m straight.”

“I can control it.”

I know this far too well because I used to be that person who believe mental health was not that serious. In fact, I started fixating my attention on it when it hit home; from there, It became a personal matter for me rather than just getting a general understanding of it. I began to research more about the issue, but even so, I was always intrigued by the human behavior so much, that I majored in psychology in my undergrad year, which then lead me in pursuing a Masters in Mental Health Counseling. With so many things going on in the world emotionally – the need to bring awareness about mental health is urgent especially when it’s militated within the youth and our community that are impacted with the issue.

The truth is, it’s hard to go to therapy and confess to a professional therapist  who’s basically a stranger. And that’s okay, It takes time. We just can’t let it get to the point where the problem takes over our whole life and destroys us. Nowadays, we’ve gotten into a notion of pretending everything is great and wearing a mask that displays ourselves as being okay. What concerns me is how some people who suffers from a psychological and/or emotional issues are finding substitutions such as alcohol, substance, and sex to ameliorate their problem. Their behaviors becomes reoccurring and addictive which results in them feeling worthlessness, deprived and empty inside – adding salt to their wound. Addictions (alcohol, substance, and sex) serve themselves as the solution to those individuals who are suffering from mental illness – as if it’s the real deal to feel good, numb the  pain, heal quickly and forget about traumas temporarily. But in reality, these substitutes are a problem itself and can cause serious damage in one’s life. It’s important that such mental illness gets treated with the right formulas (God and therapy), proper transition of care (mental health or substance abuse)  and level of care  (Inpatient, residential, rehab, hospitalization, intensive outpatient care, detox) if necessary.

As we all already may know, God is the natural healer and is where we can get our daily doses of medicine for healing. I am a firm believer that God won’t ever let His people suffer on earth, and so He provides us with professional helpers (Therapist, Psychologist, and Psychiatrist) who He created to aid us mentally – just like how He made other professional helpers so that they may aid us physically (Surgeons, Nurses, Dentist, Pharmacist, etc.). Having a strong support system plays an important role in one’s process of recovery. Those support system( family, friends, church, community, etc.). can keep individuals on their feet if they’re grieving, stressed, confused, or just in need of some guidance. Such environment can also provide opportunities to reflect on one’s self.

Finding a therapist can be tough at times as well as going to therapy can be expensive for some of us, but don’t worry, I’ve done my homework and was able to gather up useful information in effort to make things a lot easier. Hope this helps!

Find a therapist:

When finding a provider, you want to make sure that they’re a good fit for you. Preferences of specific areas such as race, language, gender, age, sexual orientation, and location are useful when searching for a provider that you may feel comfortable with. Next, you want to go to a provider that specializes in the area (Depression, anxiety, Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), family concern, marriage concern, stress, bipolar, etc.) that relates to your concern/reason for counseling. It’s best to also talk to the providers about certain techniques and interventions (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Biofeedback, etc.) that may work for your type of issue. Lastly, mental health is like another language for some of us; you want to be sure that the provider is competent in that area  and provides psych-education – educating you about your psychological issue and treatment plans as well.

Telehealth:

Don’t feel comfortable seeing a therapist face to face? No worries, most providers offer telehealth services where you can do virtual counseling  in the comfort of your own home. Talkspace is one online site that offers therapy services with licensed therapist at an affordable cost. Visit their website to learn more: https://www.talkspace.com/

Contact Your Insurance Company:

If you have healthcare coverage, call your insurance carrier to see if you have Mental Health coverage, and if so, speak with a customer service agent to go over benefits in seeing a therapist/psychologist/psychiatrist as well as creating a list of INN (in network) providers in your area.

Community Resources: The United Way is a resource that can assist anyone who does not have health care coverage but are in need of some assistance. This is a free service, it’s confidential, and are available 24/7. United Way are staffed with trained information specialists and volunteers who can connect callers to several community resources nationwide for the following:

Counseling Services

Mental Health

Food

Legal Help

Senior Services

And more!

Visit their website for more information: https://www.unitedway.org

Contact Your HR Department for Additional Benefits:

Most employers offers additional benefits that includes free counseling (up to a certain number of visits) such as EAP (Employee Assistance Program). You can navigate online through your employer’s website to view your benefits or speak to your HR regarding additional benefits in general and eligibility for certain benefits.

 

A simple call can save someone’s life. If you know someone that’s suicidal or having thoughts of harming themselves, please direct them to contact the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 800-273-8255. The service are available 24 hours a day and are open 7 days a week. All calls are confidential.

 

Best,

Dahana St Jean

 

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