21 Mental Health Resources for BIPOC (and 5 Tips to Finding the Right Therapist for You)
As an Afro-Latinx woman, I’ve often felt left out of the mental health conversation. In my search for a therapist, I found myself scrolling through photo after photo of people who didn’t look like me. I was already anxious and upset, and the lack of representation in my search only compounded those emotions.
When we’re faced with a 24/7 news cycle showing Black men and women dying at the hands of the police, cultural appropriation flooding our social media pages and everyday microaggressions, our mental health can suffer. Luckily, there are resources out there catered specifically to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color). From inclusive therapy directories to inspiring podcasts, here are 21 mental health resources to check out—including how to seek the right help for you.
How to Find a BIPOC Therapist
According to a 2015 study by the American Psychological Association, 83.6 percent of psychologists are white, while only 14.6 percent combined are Black, Latinx and Asian (and that doesn’t even account for Native Americans and other underrepresented communities). While therapists specialize in a variety of areas regardless of their background, stats like this can be so disheartening. Identity is important, and it’s hard to speak up and communicate about the struggles plaguing our society (aka racism, economic disparities and microaggressions, to name a few) to someone who has had the privilege of not experiencing those issues.
"The largest benefit of having a therapist who reflects your identity is that there may be a greater understanding based on some shared experiences. While every person’s experiences are different, there is no mistaking that walking in the world with darker skin informs your perspective," said Jor-El Caraballo, founder of Viva Wellness and Shine contributor. "Sharing that identity has been well-demonstrated to create a deeper sense of trust between therapists and clients and that’s incredibly important when you’re sharing intimate details of your life."
While it may seem like a mountain to climb, Caraballo shares a few tips for BIPOC to get started on a positive mental health journey.
1. Create a list. Before you start your search, write down what you're seeking support for. "Finding the right therapist often starts with understanding your reasons for seeking out therapy and having some idea of—no matter how broad—what you’d like to achieve or get out of therapy. Being able to articulate this can help you align yourself with the right therapist who has experience supporting people with similar issues and has the competence in helping you move forward," Caraballo explained.
2. Search through BIPOC-specific directories. Now that you settled on areas you want to touch base on, you can begin to look for an inclusive professional through BIPOC-specific directories.
3. Put on your interviewing hat. You found a few candidates. Great! Now, it’s time to ask yourself, "Do they match with the needs I'm looking for?," and/or "Will I be comfortable with this person?" Also, don't be afraid to reach out and ask them a few questions before setting up an appointment. Caraballo recommends asking “What are your experiences working with BIPOC clients? and "What’s your relationship to social justice and how race/ethnicity impacts therapy?”
4. Be prepared for trial and error. Finding a therapist is like speed dating. Sometimes, you'll find the one and other times you have to go back to the drawing board. However, don't feel discouraged (and don't settle if you're unhappy). Says Caraballo: "I think that one sign that potential clients can look out for in an initial contact is how comfortable the therapist is in talking about racial/ethnic identity. Do they seem comfortable answering your questions on the topic, or do they seem taken aback or awkward? If it’s important to be able to speak honestly about your identities and experiences, it’s important to not settle for a provider who doesn’t seem capable of creating that comfortable space for you."
5. If therapy is expensive... Sessions can be costly and there are only a few insurance companies that will cover it (or not at all). Sometimes directories offer financial assistance while nonprofits like The Loveland Foundation are willing to make therapy more accessible to the BIPOC community.
Whether you're into therapy or not, there are plenty of other mental health resources (free or membership) to try instead. From social communities to apps, here are ways you can connect with others, practice daily self-care and stay informed.
A List of Mental Health Resources
Directories1. Therapy for Black Girls: Created by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, the organization is an outlet for Black women to seek therapy and break the stigma surrounding it. Browse the directory on the site, join the private Facebook community, listen to their podcast or sit in on their weekly group support sessions.
2. Therapy for Black Men: With over 70 licensed mental health professionals, their database has a host of therapists and coaches for Black men. Scroll through their site to find additional resources, personal experiences and financial assistance.
3. Latinx Therapy: Use their search tool to find a list of therapists in your area (especially bilingual professionals). They also have resources like podcasts, YouTube channels and books that represent the Latinx community. Plus, COVID-19 resources for immigrants and undocumented folks dealing with the pandemic.
4. Melanin & Mental Health: Created by two licensed therapists, Eliza Boquin and Eboni Harris, this directory lets you customize your searches like a specific treatment (art therapy, hypnotherapy, etc), license type (life coach, psychiatrist) and even language preference. Plus, they have online webinars and a podcast to learn more about therapy.
5. National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network: Browse through their interactive Google Map and find an array of therapists catered to queer and trans people of color. The organization even offers financial assistance for those who can’t afford therapy, training for companies and a digital space for queer and trans people of color to connect.
6. Black Emotional and Mental Health: If you’d prefer telemedicine, Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM) features a virtual directory to connect you with mental health professionals online. Whether you’re into email, video-chatting or just simply talking on the phone, you can choose which virtual platform works for you.
7. Inclusive Therapists: Austin-based therapist Melody Li created Inclusive Therapists, where you can find mental health professionals that specialize in racial trauma. (They also provide reduced-fee teletherapy.)
1. Ethel Club
This Brooklyn-based working space has become a safe haven for BIPOC, both on and offline. But if you’re not from the Big Apple, you still have a chance to be a part of the digital community. Members can receive free mental health counseling (which has turned into virtual sessions as a result of the pandemic), watch discussions with cultural leaders and connect with others online.
2. Dive in Well
Originally created as an event to talk about a push for diversity in the wellness sector, Dive in Well is now a full-fledged platform for BIPOC to participate in the wellness conversation. They host virtual workshops on a variety of topics like astrology, meditation and self-empowerment while offering workbooks to incorporate into your daily life.
This NYC wellness space combines mental health and holistic care together. They offer therapy sessions, workshops, coaching and e-guides to help you stay active physically and mentally. Here, you'll find a service that works for you and your schedule while offering both online and offline support.
Founded by Taraji P. Henson, The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation raises awareness of mental health in the Black community and the stigma around the subject. Currently, the foundation is holding free virtual therapy groups for teens and young adults. They also launched the Free Virtual Therapy Support Campaign which raised money for mental health services and offered over 1,500 participants up to five free individual sessions. Soon, they'll announce the new program for 2021.
The nonprofit organization wants to make therapy more accessible to BIPOC women. They host a virtual therapy group called Soul Sessions for up to ten participants (for every $100 donated to the organization). Each session is led by a therapist of color to connect, talk and heal in a group setting.
Last year, Real launched free virtual services for BIPOC and hosted weekly sessions. Now, they have expanded into a membership that includes a therapist directory, progress tracking, events and so much more. Whether you're on your computer or the app, you'll have access to create goals, track your mental health and connect with a therapist.
7. DRK Beauty
The digital platform offers wellness, beauty and fashion resources to empower and uplift women of color. In particular, their wellness section highlights Black-owned brands to buy and support. Actress Cynthia Erivo even partnered with the company to raised over $500,000 for more mental health resources for the BIPOC community.
Join founder Lauren Ash as she dives into what self-care and self-love mean to women of color. Each episode strives to inspire, motivate and uplift Black and Brown women featuring interviews with beauty, wellness and business professionals.
Listen every Friday as Dr. Dominique Broussard and Terri Lomax touch on topics related to Black women. H.E.R (aka Healing, Empowerment, Resilience) is working to inspire women and help them deal with daily obstacles.
Follow along as two close friends work to uplift Black women and share their own experiences when it comes to self-care, anxiety and many more topics related to women of color. Each episode, they give helpful advice about how to create your own safe space and strive to be your best self.
Two L.A. besties have weekly conversations about self-care, spirituality and entrepreneurship to motivate women of color to reach their potential. Each episode highlights tips and tricks to tackle issues and create goals in the wellness and health space.
Created by Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi, the mental health app has a free collection of meditations (with 90 percent voiced by Black women), stories and a digital community. You can also track your mood, receive customized articles and connect with a therapist virtually.
If you're into meditation or looking to add it to your daily routine, this app have over 260+ titles taught by BIPOC teachers. From anxiety to internalized racism, you can find a meditation or talk ranging from five to 25 minutes.
This self-care app is all things wellness for BIPOC women. Whether you're looking for meditations, affirmations and/or coaching, search through the free app to destress and relax.