The COVID-19 pandemic worsened mental health across the board in the U.S., but people of color—who disproportionately suffered the worst effects of COVID-19 and have historically lacked adequate access to mental health care—were hit especially hard. One 2022 study found that Black, Hispanic, and Asian adults in the U.S. “exhibited much worse mental health during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic,” while white adults experienced a less stark decline.
Yet white Americans are still far more likely to receive professional mental-health care. Many obstacles keep people of color from receiving this sort of help, including financial and insurance limitations, a persistent stigma of seeking help for these issues in many communities of color, and barriers to finding a therapist with a similar cultural background.
Here are some organizations working to bridge that gap.
National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network
The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network is a national organization that provides a directory of hundreds of queer and trans therapists of color. The organization, which was founded by therapist Erica Woodland in 2016, hopes to make it easier for queer and trans people of color to find mental-health practitioners. The organization also runs the Mental Health Fund for Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous and People of Color, launched in 2017, which has raised nearly $50,000 that has been distributed to “primarily Black, trans, and non binary folks” for their therapy needs, Woodland says. Applicants for the fund can request up to $100 per session for up to six sessions with a therapist.
Asian Mental Health Project
Carrie Zhang created the Asian Mental Health Project in 2017 after she noticed a lack of resources dedicated to Asian mental health. The organization educates and empowers pan-Asian communities to seek mental-health services by hosting mostly virtual wellness events, weekly check-ins that function as support groups, and workshops with speakers. The group also started fundraising for a mental-health fund through which the organization hopes to provide 25 people facing financial hardship with a $500 stipend to dedicate to mental health or wellness services.
“We anticipate people either using that money to seek a therapist or to take care of their therapy co-pays, but we also recognize that when it comes to mental health and wellness, it’s more than just therapy,” says Jennifer Tarm, director of partnerships at the organization. Acupuncture and other holistic modes of healing can also qualify.
HealHaus Therapy Fund
The HealHaus Therapy Fund, started by Brooklyn-based wellness center HealHaus, was created in 2021 to bring individual talk therapy to Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC); so far, 50 people have benefited from the fund. The fund’s ultimate goal is to offer eight weeks of free therapy to 100 people. “Therapy can be expensive and is considered a luxury for most,” says Darian Hall, co-founder of HealHaus. “Many insurance companies don’t cover therapy services, so this was a way for us to introduce therapy to those that may have never done it.”
Loveland Foundation’s Therapy Fund
The Loveland Foundation’s Therapy Fund was created in 2018 with a focus on Black girls, women, and nonbinary people who are seeking therapy. The fund covers up to 12 sessions for its recipients, and since it began it has already provided 72,000 hours of therapy. The Loveland Foundation also runs free support groups, which provide tools for navigating the challenges associated with mental illness in communities of color. “We’re working to provide equitable access to therapy and destigmatize the topic of mental health within our community,” says Hannah Tall, director of programs at the Loveland Foundation.
Therapy for Black Girls
Psychologist Joy Harden Bradford started Therapy for Black Girls as a mental-health blog in 2014, and by 2017, it had evolved to include a popular podcast and a therapist directory of predominantly Black female therapists. Today, more than 5,000 therapists are on the list. “There’s still a ton of stigma related to mental health in the Black community,” says Harden Bradford. “When people are considering therapy, one of the things that often makes them more comfortable is getting an appointment with a therapist who looks like them.”
Therapy for Latinx
Therapy for Latinx, which launched in 2018, provides a directory of about 500 therapists who specialize in issues relevant to the Latinx community. Founder Brandie Carlos came up with the idea after having trouble finding a therapist to help her cope with a friend’s suicide. While she found other directories for people of color, she didn’t come across anything specifically for the Latinx community—so she created one herself. “If I was having a hard time finding a therapist,” Carlos says, “I knew other people in my community were as well.”
If you or someone you know may be experiencing a mental-health crisis or contemplating suicide, call or text 988. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental-health provider.
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Contributor: Maya Chung