As a black therapist and even as a client I have experienced racial bias within the counseling profession.
Despite the emphasis on diversity that is part of most counselors’ and psychiatrists’ training, I continue to experience racial bias in my field.
I have witnessed other helping professionals reinforce the stigma associated with mental health and race with their lack of cultural competence.
I have felt undervalued, dismissed, disrespected, and defeated.
Racism has affected my ability to want to get help for myself as well as advocating for my all clients, in fear that I will not be heard or understood.
I feel no matter what comes out of my mouth, my race discredits me in this society as helping professional and as a woman of color needing help with my own mental health issues.
Mental health comes with its own stigma and adding race as a factor in treatment decreases the likelihood that person will get the help they need.
I’ve seen how my clients have been dismissed by coworkers just because they were black or a person of color. Also in other discriminating and unjust ways as well.
Their stories were mimicked, shamed, and dismissed because of the color of their skin and their mental health status.
I’ve been called “angry” by my Caucasian therapist during my own therapy session as a client because I did not agree with a Caucasian psychiatrist who dismissed me, silenced me, and did not care to collaborate on my treatment.
I was told my “anger” and resistance was stopping me from getting the treatment I was being offered. My feelings of disappointment, frustration, and helplessness were not validated.
Imagine being afraid to seek help because you are used to not getting it.
Racial misdiagnosing and being treated by helping professionals with lack of knowledge and cultural competence are common for people of color.
How can you treat someone who you do not respect their beliefs, norms, values, or language and other cultural characteristics?
To all helping professionals out there, you have to earn our trust by learning how to diagnose and treat the needs of people of color.
This is why I do what I do!
For all the people out there who feel helpless and defeated and as if no one understands.
I understand you!
For all the people who feel dismissed and overlooked when seeking help.
I see you!
For all the people who feel undervalued and disrespected when advocating for yourself and others.
I am you!
And, I will not give up on myself and others who are in need.
I will continue to focus on practicing, encouraging, and empowering others to self-manage and to seek professional help by competent and empathetic helping professionals if needed.
Black lives matter and so does mine!
Have you been mistreated and misdiagnosed because of your race? Or have you witnessed it happening to someone else? Comment below!