It is highly likely that while watching a mainstream American movie or show, you come across the trope of a “Strong Black woman”. A superwoman, who shoulders the main characters through her wisdom and relentless strength.
Generally, black women are viewed as caregivers and self-less providers who are supportive of others but do not have anything to share of their own. We need to interrogate this “Strong Black Women” image to normalize therapy and counseling for women.
This article helps you find your way through Therapy for Black women, including why we should talk more about it, what hurdles women face, and how to find the right therapist.
Patterns of Mental Health Illnesses in Black Women
Black women face significant mental health disparities that direct our attention to the importance of therapy for black women. 15.8% of Black teenage girls in the US are reported to have attempted suicide in 2020, compared to 9.4% of White and 11.9% of Hispanic teenage girls.
Black women face a variety of mental health issues that stem from racist and sexist attitudes, sexual objectification, and body image issues. When therapists talk about mental illnesses in women, they might not include how racism and oppression play into it.
Barriers Faced by Black Women
Black women face several barriers when it comes to mental health support. Due to these barriers, Black women might be denied mental health support or they might be reluctant to go for it.Some of these barriers include:
Lack of Culturally Competent Care
Your therapist must understand you so that they can use the best possible treatment method for you. They should be well aware of issues related to age, gender, sexual orientation, and ethnic and racial identity.
Paying for mental healthcare can be a huge barrier for Black individuals as they are more likely to be excluded from economic resources than White people. It is reported that around 19% of Black Americans live below the poverty line. Paying for transportation, fee, or other costs might hinder access to proper mental healthcare.
The Stigma Associated With Mental Health
Mental illnesses might often be associated with being “crazy” or deranged. People also overlook external factors, such as oppression and racism, when discussing mental health issues, creating roadblocks to receiving mental health care.
Racism and Discrimination in the Mental Health Care System
The healthcare system itself might not be a safe place for Black women as it might subscribe to stigmas and stereotypes. A culturally oblivious therapist can do more harm through misjudgment and by ignoring the pain of black women.
Lack of Black Mental Health Care Providers
As a Black woman, you might want to get treated by someone who shares your history or background. However, less than 5% of mental healthcare providers in the US are Black, which can make it difficult to find a black therapist.
‘Strong Black Woman’ Stereotype
The stereotype of “Superwoman Schema” or “Strong Back Woman” characterizes black women as selfless caregivers without their own needs. As there is little emotional support available to them, Black women might feel the need to suppress their psychological needs.
Black women might also be scared of voicing emotional feebleness, if they perceive this as a sign of weakness or vulnerability. However, that doesn’t mean that black women are allowed to display anger and frustration. On the contrary, they are judged for being too confident and loud, another drain on mental health.
What to Expect When Seeking Therapy as a Black Women
As a black woman, finding a compassionate and culturally sensitive therapist can be a daunting task. If you are thinking of starting therapy for the first time, here is what you should expect from your therapist.
Your therapists Will Help You Identify Your Psychological Disorders
Black women are unrealistically expected to be strong, and they can internalize these beliefs. Therapists try to help them realize that they might have physical symptoms tied to distress over discrimination. They are also taught ways to demonstrate vulnerability in a healthy way.
Your Therapist Will Be Open to Discussing Racism And Discrimination
When treating black women, therapists make sure that they provide their clients a safe space to discuss racism and oppression. In this way, patients can relate more to a therapist and know that racism is a safe subject, well-understood by the therapist.
We want you to know…
It is not necessary to work with a counselor who shares your racial, gender, and ethnic background. However, as a Black woman, working with a black, female therapist can lead to better psychological outcomes.
At The Hardy Clinic, we have a team of Black therapists who specialize in therapy for Black women and girls. We can give you a safe space that makes you feel heard and understood.
Our culturally competent therapists will guide you on your way to healing and personality development.