Tag: <span>Mental Health</span>

The Importance of Finding a Therapist Who Looks Like Me

When studying to become a therapist, they teach you that you must always be culturally competent, meaning aware of your personal beliefs and biases. We are asked to be knowledgeable about different cultures, have skills to manage our differences, and be mindful of our attitude towards other cultures. The real question is, is it possible to be culturally competent to all cultures?

 

The answer is no, which is why many people seeking therapy want a therapist who reflects their black and brown identities. A professional who can acknowledge unspoken expectations, and the rich tapestry of their culture, creating a safe space to know more.  

 

Trust is an important factor in mental health outcomes

 

Mistrust and the trouble finding a therapist
Mistrust and Misdiagnosis is Common For Marginalized Populations

Like it or not, the medical community is laced with disparities when it comes to race. Black people, for instance, are twice as likely to be hospitalized for care compared to white people and are often misdiagnosed. When working with a therapist who is not culturally competent, it leaves room for preconceived notions and conclusions that can have severe consequences on the emotional wellbeing of minority populations. This contributes to mistrust within the community and poor health outcomes in the long run.

 

Having a provider who deeply understands and can disarm those fears makes a significant difference for people of color seeking help. It’s no different than a woman seeking a female doctor for a specific issue because she feels more comfortable and better able to communicate her needs. We want to be careful not to generalize here, as even minority therapists need ongoing learning on the complexities of diversity, generational trauma, and systemic inequalities. However, even with that factor, diversity still matters. 

 

“My experience has shown that when you deal with culturally sensitive issues, you have no choice but to be as careful and as patient as possible. Every concern should be addressed properly. Otherwise, greater problems emerge at later times, when nothing can be done.”

 

—Mrs. Farzaneh Davari, UNFPA National Project Director, Iran

 

You may find the following reflections insightful, as shared in this piece by the Psychotherapy Networker regarding the experiences for people of color in the last year alone (but influenced by generations of disparities):

 

“We cannot accept people saying, ‘Get over it, it already happened, move on.’ I think this is a major problem—the lack of acknowledgment that we as a race have experienced trauma. We have to say it out loud, acknowledge it, and understand how this crime against humanity manifests. Only then can we truly address it, see it for what it is.”

 

 Zamantha Gobourne, LICSW

 Washington, DC

 

“I’ve begun telling students and beginning counselors to ‘lean in and look within’ at their own biases. Acknowledging personal biases and educating oneself about culture and ethnicities different from your own are ways to shift your thinking and become more open to differences. This can challenge and foster change.”

Shaketa Bruce, MS, LPC, NCC, CCH

 Atlanta, GA

 

“Understand that systemic racism contributes to Black people’s vulnerability to psychological, emotional, and social distress. It makes them hesitant to seek mental health services, especially from those who don’t look like them.”

Tytannie Harris, LCSW

 Chicago, IL

 

Here’s The Problem

 

According to the American Psychological Association, as of 2021 86% of therapists are White while only 4% are Black. 

 

There aren’t enough minority therapists to go around. 

 

Further complicating things, many insurance companies are unwilling to pay therapists their full fees- despite the caliber of work that goes into healing and the documentation to back it up. That means many shy away from certain plans leaving even fewer opportunities to receive care. 

 

Que the Pandemic 

 

Covid- 19 has placed a significant demand on an already strained system. Many individuals report a change in their mental health in the past year because of the following reasons:

 

. Death of a loved one

. Loss of employment/Income

. Quarantine (closures of schools, universities, jobs)

. Fear of being Infected 

. Returning to workplaces with no plan to address stress, anxiety, and burnout.

 

All of this and more directly contribute to increased rates of stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as sleep issues and an increase in alcohol or substance use. 

 

Data has shown that in January of 2019, 11% of adults reported anxiety or depression symptoms, while in January of 2021 that percentage went up to 41%. Black and Hispanic minorities face a more considerable disparity compared to whites during the pandemic. They have been hit harder in deaths, infections rate, stress, depression, and anxiety.

 

As our stressors continue to rise, we have to explore opportunities to revolutionize access to mental health services. The goal should be to create more spaces where people can simply be all of their complex selves, and feel safe doing so. 

 

Here’s a list of resources that can be useful in obtaining a minority based or inclusive therapist: 

www.blacktherapistlist.com/Directory

https://www.psychologytoday.com/

https://www.therapyforlatinx.com/

www.cliniciansofcolor.org

https://borislhensonfoundation.org/

https://www.therapistsforblackgirls.com/

 

In Addition:

 

 If you are in the helping professions (Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapist, Creative Arts

 Therapists, CASAC’s, Nursing, etc.) or just curious- Join us for an indepth conversation, Sound the Alarm: The Crisis of Mental Health in Communities of Color  on 10.19.21 hosted virtually by Molloy College: https://bit.ly/3jDWonC

 

** As a consumer– Call your insurance provider and ask why they don’t have more therapists of color on their panel. 

 

*** Tell your employer your wellness matters and ask why they don’t offer more onsite wellness programs. 

 

Piece written by Kilcy Martinez, York College Graduate School of Social Work Intern and edited by Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist & Mental Health Consultant. 

Why Mental Health Plays a Role in the Success of Your Business

Mental Health is a workplace issue

Mental illnesses from a macro viewpoint are associated with higher rates of disability, absenteeism, and unemployment. Emotional experiences like depression and anxiety often interfere with a person’s ability to focus and complete tasks and have even been reported to reduce cognitive performance about 35% of the time. While the impact may not rise to the level of a clinical diagnosis for most workers, they are still susceptible to stress and burnout, seriously affecting their ability to contribute meaningfully in their personal and professional lives.

 

Data from several countries worldwide indicate that mental health problems are behind a considerable number of employees dropping out of work, particularly as we navigate returning to work post-pandemic. It’s the elephant in the room that can no longer be avoided, with Covid-19 having a lasting impact on the workforce. It was hard before, it’s a crisis now, and we are at a juncture that requires us individually and collectively to shift our work culture and prioritize mental health. 

Mental health was a massive issue in the workplace before the pandemic. It was hard before, and it’s a crisis now. 

 

Workplace Well-being

Mental health is something we all possess. When it is good, we have a sense of purpose and direction and feel that we can cope with whatever life (and work) throws at us. But just as our physical health fluctuates, so too our mental health. This is even true for solopreneurs or entrepreneurs, with one study out of the University of California finding that out 49% of entrepreneurs surveyed had at least one mental illness, and about one-third struggled with two or more conditions like depression and anxiety.   

Emotional challenges at work can contribute to: 

  •   Decreased productivity and performance
  •   Reduced engagement with one’s work
  •   Decreased physical capability 
  •   Poor communication with coworkers
  •   Increase in employer mental health spending with behavioral health claims responsible for a 20% increase in that area.

At any one time, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems (some studies have it as one in five), and it’s no surprise that these adults are tasked with dealing with their mental health in the workplace. Depression contributes to about 400 million lost workdays annually. Poor mental health costs US employers up to $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year, and within the UK, mental health problems in the workplace cost the economy approximately £70 billion annually. 

Good mental health enables not just the individual to thrive but the business. The WHO has estimated that for every $1 invested into the treatment and support of mental health disorders, business see a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

 

Tips for Managers, Leaders & Colleagues

Some common signs that can surface in colleagues who are struggling with their emotional well-being:

 

1. They exhibit (or often talk about) physical symptoms, such as tiredness related to disrupted sleep or persistent headaches. 

2. Withdrawal from the team, more isolative.

3. Loss of interest in work, sadness, or constant worry

4. Noticeable irritability or conversely complacent 

5. Reference to increased alcohol consumption

6. Procrastination, indecisiveness, slowed productivity (missing deadlines and deliverables).

7. Absence may increase, or alternatively, they start to work much longer hours, starting early or staying late.

 

Employers are uniquely positioned to encourage employees to get help if they are experiencing issues with their mental health. Not only that, most workers want their employers to champion mental health and well-being in the workplace.

 

Employee/Self Care is Key to A Thriving Workplace 

Five small changes that can be made with little effort and improve employee well-being: 

1. Flexible hours. Discuss with your staff a reasonable plan to reduce their stress while navigating return post-pandemic. One size does not fit all.  

2. Enforce working hours. This can be done by limiting out-of-hours work and encouraging reduced email access outside of office hours

3. Increase supervision and team support: If possible, avoid employees working in a solely isolated way. If they are working from home extensively, make sure there are regular check-ins not just on work but also on challenges that impact the work.  

4. Share resources: Provide support services, share available resources like EAP information, child care options, and how to access staff members or consultants who have training in mental health and workplace stress. Make sure support is widely and regularly communicated. 

5. Promote self-care breaks: That may include reminders to eat healthy, group walks, or quiet time at the end of meetings. 

 

Other ways companies are investing in corporate wellness:

1. Changing company cultures – Get intentional about creating a culture of understanding and openness around mental health. This can mean HR programs taking steps to prevent burnout and build employee resiliency. It could also mean supervisors being mindful of and allowing employees to speak openly about mental health challenges or even implementing mandatory self-care time. Some companies have even implemented paid or unpaid mental health days from work, and staff is encouraged to utilize it before they feel overwhelmed or emotionally unwell. 

 

2. Incorporate a Wellness Menu – If wellness is not a regular part of the culture, invest in it. Progressive agencies are mandating self-care, and a part of that is providing options for staff to pick from during the workweek, such as the 30 mindful mornings or wellness workshops I recently facilitated at a Law Firm in NY. Other options include training on topics such as overthinking and productivity, stress and the body, or trauma-informed care. 

When the agency prioritizes care, it sends a message to the employee that your wellness matters, and that is often reciprocated back with increased productivity and a reduction in turnover. 

 

It will take all of us to help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 related stress and the emotional impact it continues to have on ourselves, colleagues, and communities. Our Mental Health Consultant Team can support you in your journey to promote workplace well-being and raise mental health awareness in the workplace or to personally develop yourselfGet in touch to find out more.

You can find additional resources from The American Psychiatric Association (APA)  here or when emotions are significantly impacting functioning refer colleagues to therapy here: Psychologytoday.com, Cliniciansofcolor.com, Therapyforblackmen.org, and Openpathcollective.com.

 

Amanda Fludd, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist and Corporate Mental Health Consultant

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