Black Men and Therapy: A Match Made In Heaven

It’s no secret the Black community has long harbored stigmas when it comes to therapy and the need to seek out mental health professionals. Do a little digging and most of us wouldn’t be surprised to discover these negative misconceptions of therapy are a result of slavery. According to Black Mental Health: What You Need To Know, “The root of mental health stigma among Black people can be traced back to slavery. At that time, it was commonly thought enslaved people were not sophisticated enough to develop depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders.” The irony. 

But there is hope on the horizon.

2020 was a doozy of a year. There was a pandemic that ripped its way across the globe; there were the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, which led to the protests in so many major cities across America. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who wasn’t impacted negatively by all of that happening.

One silver lining is that mental health has become a priority, for everyone, but especially Black men. So many of us were stuck inside our houses, hiding from a pandemic, while watching bodies of Black men and women be snuffed out. It forced many of us to seek help. Over the last couple years we have seen a rise of organizations geared specifically towards Black men and their mental health. According to BET article entitled, Mental Health Experts Say More African Americans Are Seeking Therapy Due To Images of Police Violence, Brad Edwards, a community organizer for Dear Fathers, the platform where Str8 Mental is found, told the Times says, “Oftentimes as Black men, because we have not been taught to open up and discuss what we’re dealing with, we often think we’re dealing with those things alone. These guys are really forming bonds. It’s purely strangers coming together, being an open vulnerable safe space and pouring into each other.”

We still have work to do though. While 40% of white people are going to therapy, 25% of black people are doing the same. Organizations like Dear Fathers are doing the work of making sure Black men know they aren’t alone. Black men have been taught to hold pain in and any time they ask for help it has been seen as weakness. But these organizations are reminding and teaching Black men there is a better way, that the only way to get strong is to admit there is a weakness. Men like Jason Wilson and Kier Gaines are showing what Black manhood can look like when you have a therapist or a coach to guide you through.

If you’re reading this and know you need help, check out the links found in this blog. These are places designed to help Black men – and the community in general – as we traverse this mental health landscape. Just remember: you don’t have to do it alone.

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