Black Therapists Explain the Stigma of Mental Health in Minority Communities

It's difficult to uproot the stigma therapy has in minority communities. It's difficult to evolve in a culture that believes prioritizing mental health is a sign of weakness. It's difficult to let go of the notion that you must be strong when dealing with trauma. But the epidemic of mental health in minority communities is a serious problem we cannot in good conscience continue to ignore.

If the fact that between 1993 and 2012, suicide among African American children across the United States nearly doubled doesn't bring you into a genuine state of despair, I'm not sure what will. To make matters worse, in 2015, research found that there were significantly more suicides among black children ages 5 to 11 than in their Caucasian peers. This was the first study to observe higher suicide rates for black people than for Caucasians in any age group.

For black teens ages 10 to 19, the rate of suicides is three times higher in males than in females. And let this statistic settle in: Black adolescents and young adults have the highest rate of suicide of any age group of blacks. Suicide was the third-leading cause of death among blacks ages 15 to 19, fourth among those ages 20 to 29, and eighth among those ages 30 to 39. It would be impossible to claim this has nothing to do with the fact that mental conditions in minority communities are go largelt untreated, causing countless racial and ethnic disparities.

The reality is one in five American adults experiences a mental health issue in a given year. So it's time for us to tackle the issue head-on: We reached out to Joy Harden Bradford, MD, a licensed psychologist and the founder of Therapy for Black Girls, a platform that provides resources for women of color; and Dion Metzger, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist, professor, and health media expert who has been featured on The Doctors, the HLN network, and in The New York Times. They both happen to be women of color who are committed to breaking these barriers.