Black Therapists Explain the Stigma of Mental Health in Minority Communities

To uproot the firmly planted seed that stigmatizes therapy in minority communities is not easy. To evolve in a culture that perpetuates the myth that prioritizing mental health is a sign of weakness is not easy. To stop suppressing your state of emotions and let go of the notion that you have to be strong when dealing with trauma is not easy. But the epidemic of mental health in minority communities is a serious problem we cannot continue to ignore. Let's make mental health in minority communities mainstream—we can't keep quiet anymore.

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 Caucasian children. 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 male suicides is three times higher than that of females. And let this statistic settle in: Black adolescents and young adults have the highest number and the highest rate of suicide of any age group of blacks. Suicide was the third-leading cause of death among blacks aged 15 to 19, fourth among those aged 20 to 29, and eighth among those aged 30 to 39. And it's particularly high among men. It would be impossible to claim this has nothing to do with the fact that mental conditions in minority communities are widely untreated and shunned by societal factors, thus 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. And talking 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, is a step in the right direction. Dion Metzger, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist, professor, and health media expert who has been featured on The Doctors, CNN’s HLN network, and in The New York Times, shared with us her genuine insight as well. They both happen to be women of color who are committed to breaking these barriers.