How to find inclusive, affordable mental health resources. 

By Kimberly Truong
Jun 12, 2020 @ 10:00 am
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While many of us may find therapy helpful at some point in our lives, unfortunately, not everyone has the same access to mental health care. Therapy can be costly, and finding the right provider can be difficult, but Black people and people of color face additional barriers.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 30% of African American adults with mental illness receive treatment each year, compared to the U.S. average of 43%, thanks in large part to prejudice and discrimination in the health care system.

And although a 2006 study from the American Psychological Association suggested that having a therapist of the same race or ethnic background can provide a better “perceived benefit of therapy,” just 4% of therapists in the U.S. are Black, while 4% are Asian, and 6% are Latinx. 

Schekeva Hall, Ph.D., a New York-based clinical psychologist, says that it’s important for everyone to pay attention to the therapeutic relationships they enter, but it can be especially vital for people of color.

“Sometimes when clients do present for treatment, it is when they have been dealing with high amounts of stress, often compounded by systemic oppression that can grossly attack health, relationships, and peace of mind,” she says. 

However, she added that those clients might engage with therapists who see only their distress and “no other important aspects of the person, outside of preserved biases” — which can result in misdiagnosis and poorer quality of care. The barriers to inclusive care — and care in general — are especially troubling given the trauma Black people have had to endure in recent months with the coronavirus’s disproportionate effects on Black and brown Americans, as well as the recent police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the subsequent protests. 

Therapy may feel like a luxury to some, and it can be intimidating to find help if you don’t know where to start. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of low-cost or completely free inclusive mental health resources for Black people and people of color. 

“Therapy is no longer only a radical way of promoting survival, it is a practical way to promote thriving daily, and to thrive is our birthright,” Dr. Hall says.

Boris L. Henson Foundation

The Boris L. Henson Foundation was founded by Taraji P. Henson in honor of her late father, and is “committed to changing the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging those who suffer with this debilitating illness to get the help they need.” The foundation has recently begun offering free virtual therapy to those who might be experiencing life-changing events due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual or tele-therapy services by licensed, culturally competent clinicians in their network will be covered for up to five sessions.

National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network

The National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network was founded to transform mental health for queer and trans people of color, and provides a directory of mental health practitioners across the country as well as a mental health fund that offers financial support for queer and trans people of color seeking treatment. 

The Loveland Foundation

Writer and activist Rachel Cargle established The Loveland Foundation in 2018 to help Black women and girls get therapy and support. The foundation also has a fund which offers financial assistance for Black women and girls seeking therapy.

Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective

The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, aimed at emotional healing for Black communities, has put up free virtual trainings and webinars, including sessions on managing anxiety and the intersection of mental health and social justice.

Real to the People

Real, a membership-based organization for mental health services, has launched Real to the People to provide free therapy sessions to help people cope in “an extraordinary time.” While Real to the People was initially launched as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is now also offering service in light of “the ongoing fight for justice in the murder of George Floyd after decades of police brutality toward members of the Black community.” Real to the People is offering a series of free support group sessions for people of color on an ongoing weekly basis.

Sista Afya

Chicago-based wellness community Sista Afya is focused on sustaining the mental wellness of Black women. Their site offers a resource page on topics like mental health conditions and how to find mental health services, as well as in-house therapists via tele-therapy sessions for those in the Chicago area, ranging from $75 - $150. If you are unable to pay the full rate, you can apply for a sliding scale rate. The organization is also offering an online support group as a means of helping to “process through the protests, police brutality, and current conversations about race in our nation.”

AAKOMA Project

The AAKOMA Project works to end mental health stigma while specifically focusing on the unique experiences of people of color. AAKOMA offers up to three free mental health sessions for teens and young adults in Northern Virginia. 

Ethel’s Club

Ethel’s Club is a Brooklyn-based social and wellness destination providing healing spaces specifically for people of color. Right now, the organization is hosting free virtual gatherings and healing sessions for the Black community, as well as wellness and workout sessions. You can also join their live-streamed classes and salons for a $17/month digital membership subscription.

Therapy For Black Girls

Therapy for Black Girls, founded by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, is an online space dedicated to the mental wellness of Black women and girls. The organization helps women find inclusive therapists, and shares mental health advice through a weekly podcast.

Talkspace

Talkspace, a popular online therapy app, has created a free, private therapist-led support group for those affected by racial trauma, as well as financial assistance for therapy in the Black community.