By: Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color and amplifies all the reasons we need to talk- social and economic stress, poor access to support and services, devastating losses from the loss of loved ones to jobs or just space away from abusers.
Its uncomfortable to be in the skin you are in. We are currently witnessing racial trauma within our communities forcing our deepest fears about this country to bubble up to the surface. You need a different kind of ally to help you understand, cope with and fight through this experience.
The reality is one in five American adults experiences a mental health issue in a given year. African-Americans are 10% more likely to experience serious psychological distress (Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health). Only about 30% actually receive mental health support, compared to the US average of 43%. Even further, the CDC reports suicide rates have risen 56% for teens across all ethnic and racial groups from 2001 to 2017; and for African-American adolescents, the rates have risen 60% for males and nearly double for females. Let’s get help.
We’ve been busy taking care of others and know deep down we are tired, overwhelmed, can’t sleep, find ourselves withdrawing more from others, and struggling behind closed doors. A therapist can help take the load off, work with you to find other sources of support, and teach you coping skills to feel more in control of your life. We can’t help others, if we can’t help ourselves.
Without good mental health it will be hard to continue to deal with the impact of our complex pasts and present traumas. We need to position ourselves to thrive and the best way to do that is to invest in our mental health and encourage each other in our communities to do the same.
How to Find A Therapist
Once you decide your thoughts, behaviors or actions need some attention in your life, it can be hard to find a psychotherapist. To better help you navigate the language of finding a therapist, we have compiled a super easy list below. Several
professionals across the U.S. have joined in collaboration of this project, including Amanda Fludd, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW-R), to give you all the tools you need to navigate the challenging task of finding a therapist.
Start with a Licensed Professional. A licensed professional means the person in front of you has had to meet a standard of supervised training and education and took an exam designated by their State governing body to earn their license. If someone is unlicensed, you will want to ask if they are supervised by a licensed professional (get their name and research them).
The fit. Knowing yourself and the type of person you best respond to is essential in this process. For example, if you've experienced a traumatic experience with a male, you may not be ready to talk openly and honestly with a male therapist. In general, you want to feel comfortable with your therapist. As you do your research, something about their description should begin to speak to your need. Once you start therapy we recommend staying with your therapist for at least two months to see if you are able to open up and to give progress a chance.
Therapy is a beautiful working process, and sometimes it's just not the right fit for the client and therapist. You as the client, may also come to realize you may not be ready to commit to the time therapy requires, or face deep emotional work, and on the other hand, the therapist may recognize your needs are out their scope of practice, and in that case it’s ok to end that relationship, and try again. If you just want general support and direction, and less intensive work, you may benefit more from a counselor, that unlicensed intern, or a life coach.
3. Be patient. As more people are looking for therapy, it means there may be waitlists and trouble getting through to someone on the other line. It helps to reach out to multiple providers that may be a fit and leave a message with your concern, type of insurance, and the best number that you can be reached. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t reach the first person you call. Other places to look include www.Psychologytoday.com, Therapy for Black Girls, or try the customer support line on the back of your insurance card. Sometimes they’ll even do the leg work for you to help you find a therapist with openings.
4. I’ve found someone, now what? It is important to know that everyone is nervous for the first appointment and your therapist will be asking you lots of questions to figure out what’s going on, and if they can help. You can also ask questions too because you need to know if this is a potential match for you as well. Just go right with this list and ask: