“Black Folk Don’t Get Therapy”…But Why Not?

Photo Cred: Norman Rockwell, “The Problem We All Live With”

As a Clinical Therapist, people are always asking advice about loved ones who are suffering. Their behavior is off. They’re still struggling with their grief. The list goes on. When I suggest a mental health evaluation or seeking out help, inevitably, I’m met with opposition. The answer often is “Girl you know black folk don’t get therapy!” (Soooo why are you calling me?…)


Historically, black Americans have a distrust for “outsiders”, especially those in the medical professions. There’s a long and unsavory past of black people being physically violated; unnecessarily poked and prodded. However, in the same breath, black people on a daily basis deal with racism, ongoing trauma, you name it. Police brutality. Covert and overt racism. Community violence. Institutional racism. If anyone needs therapy, we do!


It’s affecting us mentally, physically, professionally and emotionally. It’s the loved one who is “moody” or abusive. They have no outlet to properly handle these feelings so the ones closest to them suffer as much as they do. It’s your brother. Your daughter. Your best friend. It’s you. It’s me. The stigma of therapy in the black community is real and needs to be addressed. Our children are being herded into the justice system for problems that can be resolved through therapy and community supports (There’s a new law Missouri that can allow any child, any age to be charged with a felony for fights on school property or bullying). It affects all of us!


New moms are struggling in silence with postpartum depression, afraid to speak up out of fear of looking weak or simply not understanding the severity of their pain. Family and friends are bumbling around in the dark, fighting the demons of mental health alone. We laugh at funny ass memes about Kanye West and snicker at disses made at Kid Cudi, possibly as efforts to silence the whispers of our own questionable mental health. We laugh to keep from crying, but the joke is on us. If we continue to resist one of the many solutions to help end the intergenerational cycle of trauma, abuse and mental health issues, we’re essentially contributing to our own demise.


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