How This Woman Is Destigmatizing Mental Health In The Black Community
When it comes to breaking down the stigma of mental health in America, we are certainly moving forward. Younger generations, especially, are more comfortable sharing their mental health journeys online than generations before them. While openly discussing these issues is critical, more deeply rooted stigmas and barriers continue to persist—especially within the Black community.
Mental health obstacles in the Black community.
Black women, in particular, experience heightened mental health stigmas, as well as racial inequities that lead to less access and lower-quality health care. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Religion as a cultural factor.
Religion is a huge part of Black culture in America. In many churches, people are expected to pray away their pain rather than seek real treatment. We have to work toward bridging the two and allowing them to coexist.
2. Misconceptions about strength.
The Black community has survived slavery. Our story is of perseverance and resilience, and because of that, there's an expectation to also survive depression and anxiety. But mental health should not be a symbol of weakness, and finding healing from it should not, either.
3. Access to health care.
Finally, getting access to decent health care in America can be a challenge. If you don't have insurance to pay for therapy, it's certainly not cheap. We all know there are disparities in income in communities of color, and paying $80 to $150 an hour, every week, is not accessible for everyone. Plus, only 4% of psychologists in America are Black, so actually finding a clinician of color, or a therapist with cultural humility, presents another challenge.
How to break the stigmas and provide resources.
Right now, people are really fed up with these persisting racial inequities. Each of these can contribute to internalized and generational trauma, which may be amplified right now from the recent protests, police brutality, COVID-19, and potential job loss—all of which are disproportionately affecting communities of color.
To help break the stigma of mental health and to provide resources for women of color, my company DRK Beauty recently launched the initiative DRK Beauty Healing, with the goal of providing free and accessible therapy to women of color.
Anyone suffering from anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders. is not in the proper head space to fill out forms or jump through hoops to find help—I know this from my own experience with depression. DRK Beauty Healing's mission is to eliminate those hurdles.
Since conceiving of the idea in April, we have partnered with more than 100 licensed clinicians in 27 states, raised over 2,000 hours of donated therapy, and become one of the leading free therapy directories for women of color in America. The ultimate goal is to raise 10,000 hours of free therapy for women of color and to eliminate any barriers of access to mental health care.
It's also worth noting, if you're struggling with your own mental health, please reach out to someone you trust—whether it's a friend, family member, or licensed therapist.
Bottom line: Therapy should be viewed as a necessity, not a luxury. To continue moving forward, as younger generations have started, we need to understand that mental health is as critical as physical health and should be prioritized as such.
Learn more about contributing to the initiative here. And if you are a clinician interested in providing free hours of therapy, you can fill out the information here.
Wilma Mae Basta is originally a Philly native, a mother of two, and daughter of a civil rights leader. She made a career in film, TV, consumer, and consumer tech PR in the UK where she resided for almost 30 years. She managed and led major campaigns for consumer brands such as Planet Hollywood, Coca Cola, Polygram, Sony Pictures, Sonos, London Underground, Samsung, Carphone Warehouse, Logitech, and British Telecom for over a decade.
Her career kicked off in the early 90s in film PR where she worked on classics such as Reservoir Dogs, Howard’s End, and Wayne’s World followed by stints in TV and event PR. More recently, she launched and built the successful luxury vintage fashion brand, The Gathering Goddess, which was one of the leading global brands in high-end collectible fashion for the past 15 years, whose garments could often be seen on high profile women—both on and off the red carpet. Wilma relocated back to NYC in 2017 to launch DRK Beauty but continues to divide her time between London and Brooklyn.