13 mental health resources for black people trying to cope right now
Black people are experiencing extraordinary stress and trauma. These mental health resources can help.
BY REBECCA RUIZ
Life has been unforgiving for black people in America.
The trauma of personal and institutional racism that black people endure — and have endured for generations — makes such a statement true no matter the day of the week.
Yet, the coronavirus outbreak, which has disproportionately killed black Americans, along with the recent police killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed to demand justice for his death, have forced black people to experience extraordinary pain and anguish.
Tending to one’s mental health at such a moment may seem like an overwhelming task for numerous reasons, including because black people routinely face barriers to seeking mental health treatment, like culturally incompetent therapists and discrimination in healthcare settings.
“Healing for us looks different than most people,” Jameta Nicole Barlow, a community health psychologist who is black, wrote in an email.
“While anger and its expression is an important emotion to grapple with, Black people are not given any space to express that anger or rage without experiencing a negative outcome. Black people need time and space to even accept that we need healing, as we’ve been forced to move on in spite of [what’s happened]…”
Barlow, who is also an assistant professor of writing at George Washington University, said that black people have a long history of resilience and creating “healing spaces,” including the “poetry, chants and prayers used during the protests and movements for Black lives” over the last century to “music genres we pioneered like gospel, jazz, R&B, hip hop.”
Barlow said she has spent the week urging people to create healthy boundaries in their life and engage in self-care. Barlow recognizes that will look different for everyone and can include dance, music, crafts, yoga, meditation, baking, gardening, sports, laughter, and spiritual and religious practice. Workplaces, she adds, can also offer opportunities for black employees to take care of themselves.
“Radical self-care is required to live and survive in this world as a Black person.”
Barlow recommends that black people be in “community” with one another, though acknowledges that stay-at-home policies meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 makes this nearly impossible beyond digital platforms. At the same time, the saturation of online images and commentary portraying injustice toward black people means spending time on the internet can be draining instead of restorative. Barlow suggests limiting social media and news when appropriate.
To help reduce the body’s response to stress, which triggers the release of the hormone cortisol into the blood and puts a person on high alert, Barlow recommends activities like mindful meditation, a breathing exercise to restore calm, yoga practice, walking outside and feeling the sun, repeating affirmations, and writing down one’s feelings.
“Radical self-care is required to live and survive in this world as a Black person,” she wrote. “Overdosing on radical self-care is essential in this moment.”
Mashable asked both Barlow and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to share mental health resources specifically for black people. (NAMI recently published a list here.) This is a selection of what they recommended:
This 26-page tool kit, written in English and Spanish, contains information about how stress and trauma affect the body and mind, and self-care strategies for dealing with the effects of racism.
This nonprofit collective is made up of advocates, artists, therapists, religious leaders, activists, psychologists, and others who are “committed to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities.” BEAM’s website includes details on trainings and events, resources that promote wellness, emotional regulation, and coping skills, and information on how to find a culturally competent therapist.
The Baltimore-based nonprofit helps connect black people searching for a therapist with “culturally-competent and patient-centered licensed mental health professionals” through its confidential referral service.
This nonprofit organization was founded by black women to “help protect and advance the health and wellness of Black women and girls.” The site includes information about physical health as well as a quiz to determine your stress level.
Emotional emancipation circles are self-help groups “designed to help heal the trauma caused by anti-Black racism.” EEC facilitators have been trained in dozens of cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Baltimore. For more information about EEC training and participation, contact the Community Healing Network.
6. Liberate App
The Liberate app offers meditations and talks “designed for the BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] experience.” The goal is to facilitate healing by “naming and offering resources for common cultural experiences, like internalized racism and micro-aggressions.” The app contains content from more than 40 BIPOC teachers. Monthly and annual subscriptions are available for $9.99 and $71.99, respectively. Financial assistance is available for those who need it. Liberate is available on the Apple Store and Google Play.
Run by two black women who are therapists, this website offers a directory of “dope,” culturally competent therapists, a podcast about mental health, and additional resources.
This website focuses on and promotes black mental health with a magazine, newsletter, and podcast.
This website “by and for people of color” offers readings and resources related to self-care.
10. Sista Afya
This Chicago-based organization focuses on community wellness with workshops, events, and therapy services.
Therapy for Black Girls provides mental health and well-being resources for black women and girls. It includes a directory of culturally competent mental health professionals, a podcast, and a membership-based support community.
Developed by Jasmin Pierre, a black woman who survived a suicide attempt, The Safe Place app is designed to reach black users with information about mental health and self-care tips and resources. The app is free and available at the Apple Store and Google Play.
13. Treatment directories
When searching for a culturally competent therapist, try the following directories: Association of Black Psychologists, Inclusive Therapists, LGBTQ Psychotherapists of Color, National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, and Psychology Today Directory of African American Therapists.
If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, Crisis Text Line provides free, confidential support 24/7. Text CRISIS to 741741 to be connected to a crisis counselor. contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1–800–950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. — 6:00 p.m. ET, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is a list of international resources.
Originally published at https://mashable.com