This July, during Minority Mental Health Month, we continue to raise awareness about the mental health experiences of underserved and underrepresented communities. We reached out to our diverse staff who identify as BIPOC (black, indigenous and/or people of color) and asked them the following question:
Thinking about the impact of culture on mental health, what would you say/how would you respond to someone within your own cultural or ethnic community who struggles with the stigma surrounding mental health/mental illness and seeking treatment?
In the hopes of encouraging others who may be struggling with asking for help, several of our staff offered the following responses:
“Mental health is just as important as physical and spiritual health, and just as normal and routine as when we seek medical or spiritual attention from our doctors and spiritual leaders. We all should be doing the same for our mental well-being. There is no shame in talking to a professional to support us as we process through our emotions, traumas and hardships. Mind, body, and spirit are all interconnected; if we neglect one we neglect all. We bring healing by addressing our whole-selves, and therapy is a great space to begin the ongoing journey of mindful well-being. We are stronger in partnership and community, and your therapist can be part of your community by partnering with you to address your needs and build on your strengths. Believing healing is possible is part of the process; trusting a professional can help get you there. ¡Si se puede!” – Priscilla Gomez, LCSW
“It is so important for us to take a closer look at what factors contribute to the thoughts and beliefs we have that impact our actions. Some of the messages we accept as truth about what we should and should not do are not our own. I encourage you to replace messages that are stopping you from healing and experiencing life to the fullest. You are not weak or broken when you accept help. There is nothing ‘crazy’ about reacting to the experiences you have had in life. That is called being human. You deserve peace and healing.” – Anonymous
“It was not that long ago that homosexuality was a diagnosis given from the DSM or conversion therapy (which suggested that sexual orientation could be cured) was relatively practiced. This, and more, have led to the queer community feeling stigmatized by psychotherapists. Even a simple intake form that asks about gender or marital status could be insensitive to members of this community. And yet suicide rates are crazy high in this population! So, while it may take some time to find the right match, it is imperative for LGBTQ+ individuals to find a therapist that will be affirming of their identity and get the support they need.” – Tiffany Dawson, PsyD
“Strength is being able to overcome challenges. Strength is the ability to bend without breaking. Strength is allowing yourself to take care of your own needs, so that you can continue to care for others. And lastly, strength is having the courage to admit to yourself (or others) when you are suffering. Our own mental health is important because we can unknowingly hurt others when we do not address the pain or stress we feel ourselves. Seeking professional help for some in the Latinx community is a courageous act because of the stigma attached to therapy. Therapy is not easy and it can be difficult because we are conditioned to ignore, deny or escape from the pain we experience throughout our lives. I’ve learned that the stigma around therapy in my community is actually more closely tied to the fear one has with facing their pain and traumas. And since the opposite of fear is love, showing love for oneself by seeking therapy is actually an act of strength because if we are better able to deal with our pain and stresses of everyday life more effectively, then we are better able to uplift and serve others in our family and communities.” – Anonymous
“Servicios de salud mental no significa que uno esta loco, pero que necesita apoyo. Tener a alguien para poder desaguarse benifica a todos no nomas los ninos.” – Steven Frausto, LCSW
If you or a loved one is in need of mental health support, please reach out and contact us at 888-562-2211. Remember, you are not alone.