It’s Mental Health Awareness week and it was Oct. 3-9, 2021.With winter break and the end of the semester coming, seasonal depression has been showing out. Things haven’t been easy, and honestly is it just me or has seasonal depression been hitting harder since the pandemic started? To be transparent, I’m tired of this s**t. I’ve been looking at only the top half of people’s faces for the past two years. The act of looking at someone, one the most basic acts of intimacy, has become a thing of the past.
Social media has been a constant in people’s everyday lives for a while now. It’s one of the main ways people can see what others around the world are doing. COVID forcing people to limit their in person interactions has caused people’s reliance on social media to significantly increase. Due to COVID causing a schedule shift in schools, NC State has integrated a fast paced semester to cope with said shift, which hasn’t helped.
NC State provides free counseling but there’s only so much that it can do for me, especially considering that NC State has a history of not retaining Black therapists. To be quite frank, I find it hard to open up to someone who doesn’t look like me and will never be able to relate to some of the many issues I have while being a Black man, added on to the fact that I attend a PWI.
This has led me on a wild goose chase looking for Black therapists outside of NC State’s domain that are in the Raleigh area. According to the APA (American Psychology Association), Black therapists account for only 4% of therapists in the US. Looking through “Therapy for Black Girls”, among the many sites dedicated to finding Black therapists in your area, the options were viable but the prices were up to $190 per 50 minute session. Therapy is already expensive, even if you do have insurance, now you add on to the rare commodity that Black therapists are? Forget student loans, you’re going to be going into debt trying to maintain your mental stability. Sounds kind of counter-intuitive doesn’t it? Which leads to me one of the many things that has been getting on my nerves since COVID started.
The amount of “mental health” advocates that have appeared out the woodworks has not only been irritating but as performative as the “mental health check-ins” I have been getting from NC State. You can’t just tell people to “get therapy” when they have an issue. I have been seeing this being told to Black people whenever they have any sort of mental health issues. While therapy is one of the more effective options, I feel that there’s some lack of understanding in the “seek therapy” statement being pushed out to Black people.
For one, therapy (specifically Black therapists), are spread out and few in number as well as expensive. This can be a barrier for many Black people considering some of the socioeconomic barriers that Black people deal with. Everyone doesn’t have the financial leeway to throw $80+ for an hour of dealing with their problems, and a lot of problems that Black people deal with aren’t gonna be solved in an hour. Is it possible to solve decades of systematic oppression and terrorism in a world that constantly finds a way to attack you due to your skin? You tell me, cause I’ve been trying to figure that out for years now.
With that being said, it’s not like I don’t think that anything positive has come from this sudden shift in collective awareness in mental health. It’s just that I feel that there’s more that can be done instead of just posting a instagram slideshow and slapping “get therapy.” on every grievance that black people have stated, whether that be from there day-to-day, or even racial issues.