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5 Things Black Women Should Know About Mental Health Counseling

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This piece was originally written by Asha Tarry, a Black Doctor contributor.

African American women are known by many as one of the strongest groups of women in the world, mentally. But what happens when their mental health takes a turn for the unusual? According to a recently released report from the National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. women are more likely than men to experience serious mental health challenges. Black women in particular, like many Black men, typically avoid the outside advice of a mental health professional when stress starts to affect their mood, activity, sleep, eating habits or weight. Black women often deny mental and physical changes; typically suppress their feelings and even harmful thoughts for fear of being seen as weak or crazy.

Though there seems to be a rise in the number of millennials who seek counseling for stress or other psychic pain, these numbers have not warranted enough attention for the medical industry to research more effective treatment and prevention for people of color, in particular, women of color. Therefore, as a treating provider, I have compiled a list of five things Black women should know about mental health:

1. Seeking mental health counseling or life coaching is not a sign that you’re weak or “crazy.” It means that you or someone close to you notice that there are significant changes in your thinking, behaving and lifestyle and it may warrant the advisement and guidance of a professional.

2. When you avoid seeking help for persistent mood changes, personality changes and changes in thinking, including having thoughts of harming yourself or others, you risk those symptoms worsening, making treatment that much more difficult to impact the chemical reactions in the brain once a regimen begins.

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Originally published: April 6, 2016
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