On May 25, Black Minnesotan George Floyd died at the hands of a police officer who kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes, suffocating him. In the days following Floyd’s murder, bystander videos of the killing circulated widely on social media, along with calls to action and widespread criticism of the entrenched racial bias in America’s criminal justice system.
For people of color (POC), especially the Black community, racism is an everyday reality that exists far beyond instances of police brutality. Micro-aggressions and confrontations, from being followed in a store to being profiled by law enforcement, are routine occurrences that are enormously detrimental to mental health. In addition, images and videos of brutalized Black men — like Floyd, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and countless other victims of racially motivated attacks — broadcast across media can trigger PTSD-like symptoms for Black viewers.
However, POC who need mental health support most are often inhibited by language and income barriers, as well as disparities in access to mental health services. In addition, it can be difficult for POC to find care providers who understand and empathize with the racial trauma they experience. For Black Americans specifically, mistrust of authorities due to decades of poor governmental treatment — and present-day systemic barriers — further blocks acceptance of and access to mental healthcare.
Melody Li, founder of Inclusive Therapists, an organization helping marginalized communities find counseling and therapy, explains the importance of intersectionality in mental health care. “European colonization brought forth a heavily Eurocentric leaning in our modern understanding and approach to mental health,” she says, citing the impact of economic inequity, war and diaspora on the mental wellness of POC. Cultural variables, such as gender roles and indigenous practices, further call for a departure from the modern “one-size-fits-all” approach to psychology.
Li has seen a five-fold increase in mental health-related inquiries over the past week, a testament to the vital need for intersectional care. “Affirming and responsive therapists honor cultural strengths and tend to the intergenerational impact of injustice and trauma,” Li, an immigrant and therapist of color, explains. The expert, who also co-founded the Austin Counseling Collective, encourages POC to call on their white allies during this emotionally charged time. “Instead of investing time into correcting and debating white or white-adjacent folks who don’t get it, which can be so draining, call on white allies to step in to shoulder that weight,” she suggests.
Keep reading for a list of mental health organizations and resources serving the Black community, as well as the wider POC community, at this time.
While you’re here, we’ve rounded up a list of Instagram accounts providing continually updated resources on how to take action against racism.
Founded by Tomina Ward, Black Therapy Love is an app making it easier for users to find Black mental health providers including therapists, counselors and coaches. “These professionals look like you, understand you and can help you,” the app’s website states. Essentially a directory of Black mental health professionals, the app is free to download and access.
Inclusive Therapists matches POC and minorities to mental health providers that fit specific criteria regarding race, gender identity, sexual orientation and cost. The platform’s directory spans professionals including psychologists, psychiatrists, relationship therapists and social workers and serves 20 states as well as parts of Canada.
Working at the intersection of mental health and social justice, the NQTTCN helps the LGBTQ+ POC community find fellow queer, POC mental health providers through its online directory. “We recognize that systemic oppression and degradation (colonization, white supremacy, ableism, patriarchy, queerphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, capitalism, etc.) lead to our experiences of suffering, trauma, and mental health issues,” the organization writes in its Statement of Care.
Merging mental health education, resource connection and community support, Sista Afaya is an organization championing the mental wellbeing of Black women. The initiative currently has openings for online therapy appointments, provided at a reduced cost of $75 to $150 USD per private session and $35 USD per group session. Sista Afaya also offers a sliding scale rate for those with financial limitations and accepts insurance providers including Aetna, Cigna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare and more.
Founded by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Therapy For Black Girls is an organization and weekly podcast striving to make mental health discussion and care more accessible to Black women. Offering a location-based search engine to help connect patients with Black therapists in their area, the platform has also teamed up with skincare brand Topicals, to provide free group therapy memberships. Those looking for further support can also join the Therapy For Black Girls Facebook group.
Taraji P. Henson founded The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her late grandfather, who suffered from mental health issues after serving in the Vietnam War. The organization has compiled a directory of mental health providers and programs serving the Black community, and will also re-launch its free, virtual therapy program, originally introduced in light of the coronavirus pandemic, on June 5 (keep an eye on the foundation’s website for application forms). Allies can text NOSTIGMA to 707070 to donate and help fund free therapy sessions.
Created by suicide survivor Jasmin Pierre, The Safe Place is a mental health app specifically developed for the Black community. The initiative is currently offering educational resources including statistics on Black mental health, self-assessments for depression and anxiety and tips on self care amidst instances of police brutality.
Psychotherapy practice Well Williamsburg is offering free therapy for Black and indigenous people of color (BIPOC) living in New York. Those interested can submit a request for a free, 50-minute introduction to Resource Tapping, a stress regulation technique derived from trauma therapy technique Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).