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The Black community seeks therapy after recent events

Mental health awareness has become more prominent in the African American community.
Credit: AP
Jasmin Pierre poses for a photo with her smartphone app, in New Orleans, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Pierre, who survived multiple suicide attempts, doesn't want people struggling alone. She created The Safe Place, a free Black-oriented mental health app that's seen more signups during the pandemic. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

TEXAS, USA — Witnessing Black death on video and hearing tragic stories of fatal police encounters had caused countless African Americans to seek therapy for their mental health.

Research shows the Black community suffers from an increased rate of mental health concerns including anxiety and depression. Some things that play a role in this include the lack of access to responsive mental health care dealing with daily prejudice and racism, and historical trauma.

Although Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd last week, the May 25, 2020, encounter was captured on video for the world to watch a Black person lose his life. 

"I'm just kind of used to a lot of this stuff happening. Maybe this can be the first step in the success, more success and a lot less deaths going on," Angelo State University student Amaad Daraja said.

West Texas therapist Alexis McCray recommends people turn off their phones and disconnect from the news when needed.

"Taking some personal responsibility as in to what you are exposing yourself to and what you're allowing yourself to see. A lot of things that are circulated around that we are seeing really should be reported instead of shared. The awareness is growing, the curiosity is growing. Over time more and more people will be interested in seeing what they can get out of therapy," McCray said.

Some say culturally Black people don’t seek therapy because they feel like they don't need it, but another thing that plays a role in Black people not going to therapy is the lack of access to healthcare coverage.

The National Alliance of Mental Health said in 2018, 11.5% of Black adults in the U.S. had no form of health insurance. The Black community, like other communities of color, are more likely to experience socioeconomic disparities such as exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources. These disparities may contribute to worse mental health outcomes.

McCray said when African Americans do seek out mental therapy, to do research on their potential therapist and don’t assume they will work for you solely on how they look.

"I highly encourage people seeking a therapist to look for skills and specific specialties. Not necessarily look for someone that actually matches your race. Also be comfortable with the content of therapy because it’s going to be uncomfortable no matter what.”

To prepare for Mental Health Awareness Month in May, one non-profit organization taking the steps to address mental health in the Black community. "Let Us Breathe" is an organization in Abilene currently working on launching a mental health panel to address mental health in the Black community, giving Black people in Abilene a safe space to speak their mind.