Your mental health can be unexpected and a foreign space and concept within your mind. As young people, we have plights and tribulations that test our mental stamina. School, relationships and work are all stressors of everyday life that can be magnified through attending a predominantly black school and being a person of color in America. Generally, people of color experience or are more likely to deal with discrimination on a daily basis. That alone is a stressor equivalent to a mental typhoon that wreaks havoc. It can have lasting effects on how you walk through this world. With all that weight it's important to get the right support. Family and friends are great resources but sometimes talking to someone who doesn't have a concrete personal connection to you. This is where a therapist can come in as a great resource.
Therapy can seem like such a scary ordeal. Stigmas and assumptions have been built around going to therapy, especially in communities of color. Therapy is seen as being exploitation of your weaknesses and proof of your lack of strength. This is based on the expectations in communities of color that we must be strong and hide our emotions in order to overcome the struggle. This creates more adherence that will only fester the hurricane emotions you have going on. Therapy serves a spectrum of people who are at different points in their mental health. Being willing to the idea of therapy is the first step toward helping your mental health.
When looking for a therapist it's important to consider who you are looking for. The relationship you have with a therapist is very crucial because if there are trust and a sense of comfort it will be easier to open up about yourself. Depending on the person it might also be important that you share a similar background. The population of people of color who are a therapist is a small community. This is most likely due to multiple factors such as education and mental healths relationship with POC communities. Having a therapist who is a person of color can have positive results since it would allow you to open up about your experiences. As someone who has never had a therapist of color, I have found myself holding back on certain thoughts that are connected to identity and I feel won't be understood the way I would want. Now there isn't anything wrong with just having any kind of therapist especially when you are just starting out. Although, as you get more in tune with yourself and more concrete in expressing your mental stability, it might become more important that you be able to process these identity-centered stressors.
The first place to look for a therapist would be your school. Colleges and universities have been implementing more consistent health centers that provide counseling for students. This is a great resource because it would be easy to access and financially convenient. At my college, this service was temporary and just a stepping stone. Because of the influx of students using these services, it can be easy to be waitlisted for it. An alternative and more immediate start can be finding a local practice. Google is a go-to for finding one as well as sites dedicated to finding a therapist for you. You can narrow your search to location, price, and even the gender of the therapist. Realistically this process is not easy and can take some time. This type of initiative that you are taking to seek support deserves a lot of care to ensure you make the right choice.
Mental health is such a big aspect of college. Your mind like any other part of your body has to be cared for so you can live your most healthy life. While there are some stressors we can have control over, as POC in college there are others beyond your control that are due to racial aggressions. To thrive you have to take the steps needed to ensure you can be academically, emotionally and socially active.
Lead Image Credit: Unsplash