Remember when mental health used to be such a taboo subject? When it seemed like therapy was only for anyone who was clinically depressed or suicidal?
Well luckily, our generation (I’m not too fond of the word millennial…) seems to be a bit more open to tackling our own mental health and practicing self care. But sadly within the black community, being open about going to therapy is still a non-starter.
Have you grown up hearing, “Who needs therapy when you’ve got God?”.
Or maybe you’ve been told that you just need to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and suck it up”.
These ways of finding solutions for issues with mental health may work for some people, but for people like me, it just creates mental traps and a crushing feeling of a loss of control.
And if you’re already feeling overwhelmed, it can feel like you’re on a sinking ship with no life jacket in sight.
So if clinging desperately to your faith or sucking it up and working harder just isn’t working for you anymore, here are 6 reasons why black women should go to therapy.
Why Black Women Should Go To Therapy
Therapy Helps You Heal
Talking with a trained professional who is an expert in what you’re suffering from can help you create a path to your own healing. So as a black woman from a long line overwhelmed, stressed-out, strong black women, I was taught to live my life the same way, without even knowing it. Cue my anxiety, need to always be doing something, AND perfectionist nature.
Related: 3 Steps to Feeling Less Anxious
Our generational trauma runs deep. So if you’re dealing with physical trauma, childhood abandonment, or even anxiety that you think is holding you back in life, a therapist can give you a sense of control when you’re spiraling or stuck.
Therapy Allows You To Be Open & Honest
Another reason why black women should go to therapy, is because if you’re struggling to open up to your loved ones, a therapy session is the perfect place to dump all your emotions out on the table. Friends and family can be an amazing outlet, but harsh, negative criticism (or even well-meaning advice) can work against you.
A therapist provides a sacred space to let out everything you’re feeling, without the fear of judgement or restriction. During my sessions, my therapist lets me ramble out any anxieties before she starts on inner work (she knows me so well!).
Therapy Is A Sounding Board
Struggling with anxiety and stress can make it difficult to know what you want, making decision-making feel like torture. But having a trusted therapist as an unbiased and objective sounding board can help you wade through your mental chatter and patterns of negative thinking so you can be more in tune with your needs.
Therapy Can Prevent Physical Health Problems
When you find yourself dealing with hard times, such as unexpected grief, trauma, or emotional turmoil, sometimes it keep feel too intense and overwhelming to handle alone. And when your emotional health suffers, everything suffers.
In fact, there is evidence that stress can manifest into physical and mental health conditions like increased risk for stroke, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, and overall inflammation. And if you didn’t know, African Americans are genetically pre-disposed to these conditions, meaning we are already starting from behind.
Physical symptoms can begin with something that seems small, like lack of appetite, weight loss, chronic fatigue. Even worse, those problems may persist well past the stressor.
So if you’re noticing that you aren’t feeling like yourself, or even friends and family have expressed concern, it might be the best time to seek someone who can help talk you through.
Why Black Women Should Go To Therapy ( + why it’s self care)
You don’t have to be depressed or suicidal to include therapy in your self care routine. Regular therapy is beneficial when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, a job, or even your sense of identity (um….me). The resources that therapy provides help to keep you from internalizing your upset emotions, that could create even bigger problems later.
Watching the women in your family do it all without a break doesn’t mean you have to kill yourself to live up to those expectations.
A rude comment from a coworker about your natural hair shouldn’t make you second-guess your style.
And if you’re in an environment where you feel pressured to behave a certain way, you don’t have to sacrifice yourself by falling in line.
Internalizing these emotions can easily make you believe that you have to change who you are. So just feeling a little bit more in control of your mental and emotional health can be empowering, and give you the motivation to follow through with what you need to live your best life.
Therapy can even inspire you to dive head-first into some new self care habits that with consistency, can dramatically improve your life, and your happiness.
Scheduling regular appointments with a therapist that you feel safe and comfortable around, and you feel is in tune with your personal needs, will keep you balanced, honest, and hold you accountable to your inner healing.
Therapy Can Help You Get You Out Of A Rut
Maybe there are no pressing issues in your life, but you’re feeling unfulfilled or dissatisfied with your life in some way. You desire to live a more energetic and authentic life and even be the mother, wife, sister, and friend that you’ve always wanted to be.
Gender, racial, and societal barriers from childhood that can show up as negative adaptive habits in adulthood is another major reason why black women should go to therapy. A knowledgable therapist can help you overcome these barriers that could be holding you back from your own dreams and goals.
So if every day feels like a struggle and you don’t feel like you’re in a stable place, recognize that you may need assistance. There’s strength in recognizing your needs!
So stay open. Take your time. And listen to your gut when choosing the right therapist for you. It’s more important to feel safe and comfortable than to settle. Trust the process!
If you or a loved one are suffering, please don’t hesitate to reach out and get help and information.
National Mental Health and Substance Abuse Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Visit https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment for more information.