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Hope, Healing, and Mental Health in the Black Community

Updated: May 18, 2023

Every natural diamond is unique. With each turn, you can experience a greater magnificence than if you only looked at it from one angle.

Every culture and ethnicity is like one of these unique diamonds. While no gem is exactly like another, they are all subjected to the same forces - heat and pressure.

This pressure and heat are not only used to create the diamond but can also expose many flaws that need to be refined.

One of the major flaws when considering the black community is the care and prioritization of mental health.

Mental health issues harass the black community in subtle and pervasive ways, but it does not have to remain this way.

Problems that have plagued generations can be broken – with you. Healing is possible. But healthy takes work.

How Culture and History Impact the Black Community’s Emotional Well-Being

Historically, the black experience in America has been an uphill battle since the conception of our nation.

There have been many diverse and noteworthy accomplishments and progressions in the community; however, there are still many mental and emotional wounds that have yet to be healed.

In modern day, the impact of these wounds have only been made more complicated with social media very publicly exposing systemic injustices, suffering, and grievances throughout the nation.

While we live through traumatic events on micro and macro scales many cannot understand, trauma can be a part of the story, but does not have to define us.

Trauma that is unreconciled or not healed, can develop into narratives that are passed down and taught to future generations.

These narratives may unintentionally instill fear and anxiety, instead of providing comfort or confidence in how to approach different areas of life.

With no knowledge of how to address anxiety, depression, or grief properly, many do not seek the help they need. For those who desire the help- access may be limited.

I suffered from anxiety most of my life. It just felt normal. No one communicated otherwise. It wasn’t until I began studying to become a mental health counselor that I realized my experience of anxiety was neither normal nor healthy.

The first step in finding a solution for my anxiety was acknowledging that it was there. At the moment I realized I suffered from anxiety; I began to get the help and healing I needed.

Unless the need is revealed, it can’t be healed.

Why is Mental Health Neglected in the Black Community?

To be human is to be emotional. Keltner et al. at UC Berkeley found that people express 27 distinct categories of emotions.

Our emotions range from boredom to anger, compassion, surprise, disgust, and more.

Experiencing and expressing the whole range of human emotions is normal. Unfortunately, not every emotion is acceptable in every community.

Boys don’t cry.

You can be angry. Have joy. Even grieve, but only for a moment. At least, this was my husband, Fred’s, experience.

He grew up with a pervading assumption that expressing many emotions were off-limits. Even the words “I love you” were too vulnerable to share at times.

To be depressed or feel insecure can be equated with being weak. Vulnerable. And neither weakness nor vulnerability is seen as acceptable.

Does that match your experience?

The truth is that all human beings are vulnerable and have weaknesses. We’re not omnipotent.

That’s ok!

We get into trouble when we try to be anything greater than… human. Unprocessed emotions are not extinguished emotions.

Unprocessed feelings often compound the issue.

Unaddressed mental health problems multiply challenges in every other area of life. Relationally. Spiritually. Physically.

Hillary Jacobs Hendel, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and author, clarifies:

Emotions have energy that pushes up for expression, and to tamp them down, our minds and bodies use creative tactics—including muscular constriction and holding our breath.
Emotional stress has been linked to physical problems like heart disease, intestinal problems, headaches, insomnia, and autoimmune disorders.

Maybe this contributes to a 24% higher mortality rate amongst black people?

Every human being experiences emotions. Regardless of skin color or culture, no one should be afraid of exposing their feelings or shamed for doing so.

Especially for those who live in a state of heightened emotions daily.

Trauma Counseling Can Enhance the Beauty of Black Culture

I believe that counseling is like vitamins. Not everyone needs them all the time. Or to the same extent. But everyone can benefit from taking vitamins.

Everyone can benefit from counseling. Both Fred and I see the value and have sought out counseling regularly. We need it. Everyone does.

We are wired for connection. Our best, most thorough healing takes place in the context of community. A compassionate, attentive listener can help us see things our hearts hide from us.

I understand what it feels like to believe the only place you can drop your guard and be safe is at home or maybe at church.

But here at Life Transformation Counseling, we have assembled a team of honest, empathetic, skilled therapists. With us, you will be safe.

Safe to be heard.

Safe to be weak.

Safe to be you.

Safe to be healed.

Safe to flourish.

Transform Your Life Through Counseling

I utilize many different, proven therapeutic techniques. Our team has the experience, expertise, and energy you need to address the issues impacting your mental and emotional health.

Accelerated Resolution Therapy is like physical therapy for your brain. The neurological pathways in your brain can be damaged through trauma.

With the proper techniques and attention, these pathways can be repaired, and you can live with the freedom of a sound mind.

I also specialize in marriage and family counseling. Mental health is a community project. It starts in your heart, impacts your home, and can allow rejuvenation to overflow into the community.

Healing is possible. Hope is available. You are not alone. We would be honored to come alongside you as you work hard to become emotionally healthy.

Take the first step. Reach out today to schedule a consultation. We’re here to answer any questions so you can move at the pace – and in the direction – of adorning this world with the unique beauty you were designed to display.

The healing work of therapy has a cultural and generational impact. We have overcome unspeakable adversity - together. A therapist can help you do the work that being healthy requires.

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