As a therapist, I have noticed over the last few years a slow increase in Black men attending therapy, and it's so exciting and refreshing to see Black men addressing their mental health. Recent statistics show that the death rate from suicide for Black men was 4 times more than Black women, which is alarming. Overall, many in the Black community have a negative perception of therapy and are often less likely to seek therapy for several different reasons, like... the thought that therapy is only for people with severe mental illness, that they are reluctant to tell a stranger their business, relying on religion as a means to address mental health issues, the stigma and judgement around therapy, as well as the cost or lack of insurance. All of the reasons described create a difficult uphill battle when trying to increase mental health within the Black community. As a community we can make a difference in the lives of those who need mental health support by trying to destigmatize and change the negative attitudes and beliefs towards therapy and mental health.
Many Black men grew up being taught to hide or stifle emotions, which could result in them being resistant to or not understanding how to talk about feelings, express emotions and be vulnerable as adults. This in turn, can cause isolation, resentment and anger. Part of helping Black men in this regard, is to allow the Black men in your life the space and opportunity to open up and be vulnerable. Encourage Black men to seek therapy and normalize mental health as a part of overall health that also needs to be tended to just as physical health is.
It is my hope that Black men start to recognize that their emotional and mental health is vital to their overall health and well-being. Also understanding that acknowledging fears, facing emotions and expressing emotions does not mean you are weak, less than or less masculine. You are human, and it is human to feel, share, communicate and be vulnerable.
As a therapist I want to create a safe space for Black men and all clients to express themselves, process and work on letting go of any pain, frustration, or sadness to live a more satisfying and rewarding life. For Black men looking to start therapy a few resources (other than myself) to find a therapist are: www.therapyforblackmen.com or https://blackmenheal.org
Black men, you matter. Take care of yourselves, including your mental health.