PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA
Long-held perceptions like “therapy is for crazy people,” and “you don’t need therapy; you need to pray,” have cast a stigma that still prevents some black women from seeking therapy.
“We want to change the narrative around the importance of mental health for black women so that we’re not coming at it from a deficit approach that deters rather than encourages women to engage in potentially life-changing professional help,” shared Michelle Hollinger, publisher of The Sisterhood magazine, who will host a conversation with a therapist during a Facebook Live chat.
Leslie Garcia, a licensed clinical social worker and CEO of Counseling Space, will speak from her New York office on Saturday, Feb. 17 at 3:45 p.m. during a Facebook Live session entitled “Can Therapy help you Soar?”
Garcia said she frequently gets calls from women in near-emergency status who need to book an appointment right away. While therapy is an effective remedy during those times, embracing a proactive approach to therapy can help women consider participating before their lives get to a “breaking point.”
Hollinger said she met Garcia a few months ago through a mutual friend. “A part of The Sisterhood’s rebranding is hosting live interviews with people who can help our readers live better lives,”
Hollinger said. “When I decided to do a segment on therapy, I thought about Leslie because she is progressive.”
The data back up that black women tend to avoid therapy.
African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience mental-health issues compared to their White counterparts yet are 50 percent less likely to seek mental health assistance, according to Lauren Carson, founder of Black Girls Smile.
“Mental health issues are not just your uncle who everyone just says is a little ‘off’ or the homeless person you walk past who is arguing with a person not actually there. Mental health is how we feel, think and react to life,” said Carson.
Hollinger hopes after the Facebook Live conversation women will see therapy as a tool that could help them make more money, improve their health and reduce work-related stress. She also hopes black women will start believing that they don’t have to wait until their lives are in turmoil in order to seek guidance from a therapist.
“Frequently, when it comes to mental health, the conversation is focused on the ailments therapy can alleviate, instead of the benefits it can produce,” said Hollinger. “So, if someone is not experiencing depression, low self-esteem or major emotional turmoil, they might not even consider that therapy can be a beneficial tool for enhancing their life.”
The Facebook Live session can be accessed by visiting https://www.facebook.com/groups/2026243994316623/ at 3:45 p.m. on Feb. 17.