Black Mental Health Matters: Therapy in the Black Community

Black Mental Health Matters New Perspectives

By Syd Sukalski

February is Black History Month, a time when, as a country, we reflect on and honor the contributions African American people have made and continue to make to our nation. This month, we celebrate people like Rosa Parks, Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., and so many others who fought for their rights as Americans.

Not everyone knows this, but because of some documents that surfaced years ago, many believe that Martin Luther King might have suffered from depression and suicidal tendencies, though he was never officially diagnosed.

To honor him during Black History Month, today we’ll talk about Black Mental Health, what it is, and why it matters. We will also discuss some of the stigmas Black Americans might face when considering treatment or talking publicly about mental health. Then, we will wrap things up by discussing the benefits of seeking counseling nearby.

But, before we begin, let us introduce ourselves. 

New Perspective Therapeutic Services wants to help you with your mental health. Clinical Director and counselor Nigeria McHellon uses evidence-based therapeutic approaches to help people who need marriage counseling, individual counseling, online video therapy, or family counseling nearby.

Nigeria’s experience is extensive, but she specializes in treating Black Americans and people from other racial and ethnic backgrounds. New Perspective Therapeutic Services is a Black-owed, woman-owned business that focuses on Black Mental Health. Nigeria is a culturally competent therapist who admires and respects “one’s cultural background, gender identity, sexual orientation, and spirituality” (1). 

Now, let’s talk about Black Mental Health.

What is Mental Health?

Black Mental Health provides therapeutic services and approaches from a Black or culturally competent perspective. For instance, your mental health professional should evaluate how your family, community, and faith play into your mental state. They should understand how history, the media, and current issues like microaggressions and systematic racism may affect you and your condition. 

What Does Mental Health Look Like in the Black Community?

Depression and other mental illnesses are just as common in the Black population as in any other. The difference is far fewer Black Americans either seek or receive help when they need it. This deficit has many roots. One root is the widespread stigma around mental illness in the Black American community, but another is that, unfortunately, a large percentage of Black Americans are without health care.

What Stigmas Might I Face If I See a Counselor Nearby? 

One of the most significant reasons that not as many Black Americans seek mental health treatment when they need it has a lot to do with the stigma of mental illness in the African American community. Some studies trace this stigma back to slavery.

During the times of slavery, when African American people faced dehumanization and constant oppression, some thought that enslaved people were not advanced enough to develop mental illnesses. Thus, misconceptions about what was going on began to take root. Black Americans began describing their conditions as stress or tiredness when that’s not all it was. These habits run through generations of Black Americans, and still, today, it’s extremely common for people, especially Black Americans, to misidentify their depression or anxiety as tiredness or stress. 

However, this misidentification is more damaging than just getting the wrong definition of what’s happening in your head. It reduces mental illness to a minor concern. As such, it is more common in Black American households for mental illness to bear the stigma of personal weakness. Thus, it can be easy to underestimate some of the effects of mental health conditions.

But don’t let these stigmas keep you from therapy. It may be hard to explain to others, especially if they don’t see mental health as a serious issue. However, getting the help you need should always come first, and you may be able to help others around you understand mental health and not be afraid of it. But, first of all, you want to help yourself, and the best way to do that is to obtain treatment.

The Benefits of Seeking Mental Health Counseling

For anyone, the benefits of seeking mental health counseling can be huge. In therapy sessions, you will learn a lot about yourself and how to interact with the world. You may learn coping mechanisms and better communication skills; you can open up new ways of looking at the world.

Every type of therapy has its perks, but the goal is always to help you interact with yourself and others in the healthiest way possible. At New Perspective Therapeutic Services, we want to help you improve your mental health, but we also want to help you find purpose in your life. We want to help you find your healthiest life and interact well with the world around you. 

If you are considering marriage counseling or individual therapy, contact us at New Perspective Therapeutic Services. We specialize in Black Mental Health. Additionally, if you are nervous about attending therapy, consider online counseling. This option can be an excellent choice if you are anxious about coming in or feel safer attending from your own home. New Perspective Therapeutic Services wants to help you on your journey to better mental health. 

For more ideas on how to show kindness, find support at New Perspectives Therapeutic Service.

Nigeria McHellon, MSW, LCSW

Email me at:

Call or Text me at: (904) 439-6524

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