In Honor of Mental Health Awareness Month

First of all, if you haven’t already, please listen to Willow Smith tell her mom about her mental health issues and cutting herself in the past.

Mental health is such a rampant issue in African American society. Emotions like the emotions Willow was describing can affect anyone. No matter your age, socioeconomic status, education level, race, or gender.

The African American community has a tendency to sweep issues like this under the rug. Our men are taught that emotions make you ‘soft’ and culturally a black woman’s strength is measured by the amount of pain that she can endure.

I think it’s important to recognize as a people it isn’t okay to push feelings to the side. Emotions, good or bad, should be acknowledged in order to keep a sound balance in life. Part of that is speaking up when you have issues – emotion or mental.

There is such a stigma in the African American community about keeping issues like this ‘in the house’. I remember my step-dad telling me on my way to school, usually after some shit went down in my house, that ‘what happens in this house, stays in this house’. I felt pressured to keep quiet about a lot of things I had questions about, some I probably should have said something about. I stayed ignorant to my own feelings because that’s what I was raised to do. Internalize and fix it myself.

Ive learned since then it’s okay to speak up.

Its okay to feel how you feel about what you’re going through.

It’s okay to ask for help.

There is a large number of African Americans with mental health issues that go undiagnosed and untreated.

Partly because it is our culture to internalize issues or just ‘give it to God’, partly because of the mistrust of health professionals.

I had a friend who started to go see a therapist but stopped because she felt that certain thoughts/feelings she had weren’t being fully understood by her doctor because he was a white man. She told me she usually felt patronized and unheard when feelings of race or colorism entered their conversation. She saw he could never truly understand her views or feelings on certain problems in her life because of the cultural/ethnic differences.

I could understand how she felt intimidated to speak to someone who could not imagine the impact of some of the situations she goes through. I think it’s important to talk to someone you can relate to, someone who can interpret your thoughts through your eyes.

So TA-DAAAA – I have spent this month researching and putting together a list of African-American therapists in a few different areas.

Please let me know if you need me to expand this list to your area.

All are licensed professional counselors and focus on several different areas of trauma and empowerment. These links will show you each professionals’ focus, websites, rates, and further contact info.

Feel free to hit my inbox if you need additional information.

RICHMOND, VA 

Lonnie D. Smith – Licensed Professional Counselor

Faith & Family Advocate, LLC – Licensed Professional Counselor

Solange D. Cole – Clinical Social Work/Individual and Family Therapist

Centering Elements, LLC – Female Empowerment Support/ Licensed Professional Counselor

Sade Younger – Financial Therapist

Cheryl Outen – Licensed Professional Counselor

PHILADELPHIA, PA

Renee G Morgan-McLaughlin – Holistic Clinical Social Work

Tiffany Harris – Marriage & Family Therapist

L. Wayne Kenney – Licensed Professional Counselor

Refresh Counseling Services, LLC – Licensed Professional Counselor

Monica Thompson Campbell – Psychologist

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Barbara J. Brown – Psychologist

Delishia Pittman – Psychologist

Ekwenzi Gray – License Professional Counselor

Korey Puckett Washington – Clinical Social Work/Therapist

Achieving Joy – Clinical Social Work/Therapist

Martina Martin – Licensed Professional Counselor

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