Mental health is something that knows no religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, class identity, and so on. It most definitely impacts us all. No human is exempt from the trials and tribulations of life. Whether it is finance, career, family, relationships, health, raising kids, taking care of family, and so on such things affect our mental health.
The great Raekwon said before performing “Heaven & Hell” at a concert I attended, “Life is about how you make it, it could be heaven or hell, it’s just about how you take it.” Some of us take life and cope with it in many ways. Smoking, sex, working out, meditation, drinking, venting on social media, and so on are ways we cope with life. There are healthy and unhealthy ways to cope. The things that happen to us in life and how we deal with them deeply impact our mental wellness.
Many times black men bear the brunt of being stereotyped as aggressive, violent, womanizing, misunderstood, lazy, unproductive, and shiftless. Such behaviors are generally pathologized to only black men. One thing is for sure and two things are certain that many men, especially Black men do not have the space to be open, honest, and vulnerable. With the lack of healthy spaces, there is no place for us to heal, grow, cry, scream, laugh, process, and be heard.
Many black men do not attend therapy. Some feel it is a sign of weakness to be vulnerable.
Others do not want to open a can of worms for certain things that are being withheld. There is a fear of being an open book and letting others know we do not have it all together. There is also a fear of not looking strong. The male ego is weak in comparison to the female ego and is afraid to take things on.
Many things have been taken away from Blacks, but just the mere notion that despite the struggles we go through at least we can be looked at strong is something money cannot buy. So why speak to a therapist?
Another reason why many brothers do not seek therapy is that it is looked at as a white people thing.
There is a notion that therapy is a Sigmund Freud thing where one comes, sits on a couch, and pours out their problems to a white person. And up until recently until the advent of social media, many Black people have seen little to no representation of Black mental health providers. There has been a sense of disconnect for those in need of mental health services. So again, why speak to a therapist?
For some reason, we have our guards up due to how we have been treated for literally 400 years, this year in the wilderness known as America. There are not a lot of resources available for us in a preventative sense. What would it look like if we got such services? Unfortunately, we sadly get reactive attention from either being victims or victimized. Black men too deal with depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, suicidal ideations, self-harm, addictions, and so on. If more were in place from the jump, we would be better able to heal, be better to ourselves, be better to our communities, and be better for our families. Therapy is a great way to cope with all the things that are thrown to us.
A myth related to therapy is that one has to be in crisis. Going to therapy should be just as normalized as updating your iPhone, getting an oil change, going to the barber, getting a manicure, seeing a dentist, or seeing your doctor for a yearly physical. All the aforementioned incidences are not usually in crisis, just like how going to a therapist shouldn’t be either. Sometimes it is just good to speak what is on the heart and mind. Letting the shit out that gets to you is therapeutic. To be honest the people we vent to get tired of hearing us vent. It is not cool and does not serve a purpose to be the cause of vicarious trauma to others when we have therapists.
The cost of therapy may be a detriment to those. The average person cannot afford the expensive cost of a week to week service. However, if you have health insurance, many plans have behavioral health setups that have a more affordable co-pay. And to be honest, where there is a will there is a way. Even if you can’t go afford to go every week go bi-monthly, it is better than not going at all.
It is time for us to live our best lives. It is time to heal. It is time we overcome our traumas.
Just think about it. What would it look like if we went to sleep, wake up, and all our problems are solved? How would you know if things are better? What specific changes would you notice? This is a peek into the mental wellness journey via the path of therapy.
And also please follow the Instagram accounts such as @melanatedsocialwork, @hellodrjoy, @yourfavoritetherapist, @blackmeninsocialwork, @mentalhop, @theblack_therapist, @hiphopsocialworker, @therapyforblackmen, @williscooks, @tstewmsw, @basheawilliams, or the @urban_counselor for mental health tips for black men. Following the @henryhealthapp is another resource dedicated to the self-care support, mental wellness of Black men, and extending the life expectancy of Black men. Once you’re done reading this article, PLEASE download the app!