ASK RAVEN: THERAPY SESSION 2
It's not a surprise that POC have a more difficult time accessing mental health services than their white counterparts. Stigma, lack of healthcare, misdiagnosis, socio-economic factors, overburdened systems and lack of culturally competent providers all play part in creating this disparity.
Kai Cheng Thom wrote in the DSM: Asian-American Edition:
“The World Health Org suggests that mental health is largely about ‘realizing potential,’ ‘working productively,’ and ‘making a contribution.’ Rather conspicuously missing, of course, is any reference to feeling good about oneself, enjoying or finding meaning in what one does, or having better (less conflicted, more connected) relationships with others […] Is that all that mental health – vaunted, elusive, so highly prized – boils down to? Do this, do that, feel this, feel that, in the right place, at the right time?”
For POC, trauma is not just a singular experience, it is felt collectively and individually. It can be cultural, inherited, and ancestral. Its part of our daily existence via our relationship to a plethora of issues associated with, but not limited to, oppression, colonialism, marginalization, immigration, queerness, appropriation, commodification, prejudice, policing, racism, gender presentation, ability, and poverty.
In short, trauma is fucking exhausting and those who need help the most have a difficult time accessing the support they need. Rev. angel Kyodo Williams wrote: “Our healing cannot wait until the structures acquiesce, are dismantled, or come undone.” Despite these barriers, you can get support! Finding a therapist can be a time-consuming, confusing, and stressful process. That’s why we at theGIRLMOB have come up with this guide to help you help yourself!
What kind of therapist do you need?
Well, what are you hoping to address in therapy? Is it trauma, is it anxiety, feeling stuck etc. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you interview the potential therapist. Google a “Do I need Therapy Quiz” and you will be presented with a wealth of online tests and quizzes that might help you make that assessment for yourself.
If you aren't sure here are a few to get you started:
Believe it or not, there are lots of branches of the mental health field. Each branch of therapy varies in focus and expertise. In order to get a sense of what kind of therapist is best, you need to understand what makes them all different.
What about meds?
Therapists cannot prescribe medication and only certain mental health professions can accurately diagnose. More more in-depth reading
What kind of therapy is best for you?
Do you want individual therapy? Would you benefit from group therapy? What about Peer-Led support groups? Each flavor has its own advantages and limitations.
Determining what kind of therapeutic modality is best for you can be tricky. Learning about modalities is an essential part of choosing the right therapist. A modality is simply the therapeutic approach that the therapist employs with the client.
Therapists usually receive specialized training in one or more types of therapeutic approaches. The most popularized one, established by Freud, is pyshco-analytical therapy. But there are literally hundreds, from the more well-known Art, music, CBT, DBT therapies to the more obscure Wilderness Therapy. There is a modality for every type of challenge.
Read more about therapy types here:
What about MultiCultural competence?
The struggles of POC cannot and should not be exclusively contextualized within the framework of the Western notion of mental wellness and healing. There is a documented correlation between racism and mental health. Websites like http://www.mentalhealthdisparities.org/ track these links
For many POC seeking mental health support, it is important that they find and work with providers that are culturally competent, MultiCultural competence can mean many things, at its core it's developing an awareness of one’s own cultural values and biases. Learning to value others’ worldviews. Developing a set of culturally appropriate interpersonal skills. (reference
Finding a MultiCulturally competent provider is essential.
Here are some resources to get started:
Here are resources to help you find a POC therapist
What to ask a therapist?
Hopefully, now you have a better sense of why you want to go to therapy, what kind of therapy you want, what kind of modality you want. Now it’s interview time! Create a checklist with information want to know about your therapist. Most of the time therapists will offer free phone consultations or if you are going to an institute or community-based practice you can ask the questions at intake. Here’s a good place to start! https://www.choosehelp.com/topics/counseling/getting-to-know-a-potential-therapist-helps-you-chose-the-right-one
How to find the therapist: There are so many ways to find a therapist. You have resources compiled at the end of this article but here are some other ways:
Get a referral from a friend
List from an insurance provider
A doctor you already know
An organization that focuses on what you feel you need help with
Mental Health Activists
Sliding Scale/income-based rates (NYC)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Crisis Text Line Feeling down, stressed or overwhelmed? Text “STEVE” to 741741 to talk with trained Crisis Counselor 24 hours/7 days a week.
The Your Life Your Voice National Hotline is a 24-hour toll free number available to kids, teens and young adults.
TrevorText - Available on Fridays (4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. ET / 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. PT). Text the word “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200. Standard text messaging rates apply.
TrevorChat - Available 7 days a week (3:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. PT).
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.
Call the NAMI Helpline 800-950-NAMI
M-F, 10 AM - 6 PM ET
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. They offer individuals and families resources on mental health awareness, education, and recovery.
The ReachOut forums are a safe space for you to talk about whatever's on your mind. ReachOut is not a counseling or crisis service. The forums are for 13-24 year olds. All posts are pre-moderated, so there's a little delay before they show up.
TeenCentral.Net is a prevention and intervention resource for teens and is dedicated to improving the lives of all youth by providing emotional support and appropriate references in a safe web environment where identity is protected and anonymity is respected.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.
Active Minds is the leading nonprofit organization that empowers students to speak openly about mental health in order to educate others and encourage help-seeking. We are changing the culture on campuses and in the community by providing information, leadership opportunities and advocacy training to the next generation.
The Steve Fund Knowledge Center is a resource for expert information about the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color. It contains videos of presentations, panels and interviews with experts, white papers, webinars and more.
( Credit http://diorvargas.com/resources/)
I know that was a lot of information to take in, but it's not going no where! So take your time through the links. I hope this is step one towards a better you and not giving up on your mental and peace and stability. If you don't have that, everything else will feel heavy.
Lets get that weight off your shoulders.