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10 Signs It’s Time to Add a Mental Health Pro to Your Self-Care Squad

Feeling irritable, anxious, sleep-deprived, foggy or sad? Your sister circle may not be enough for these trying times. Maybe you should talk to someone.

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black woman, therapist, therapy, health
Lauren Semmer
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Molly meets with Dr. Rhonda to sort out job and relationship drama. Nathan, who had ghosted and returned, opens up about his mental health struggles and his recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder. And postpartum depression is likely what causes Tiffany to pull a disappearing act that has her husband and girlfriends scouring the city for her.

The most recent season of HBO’s Insecure, one of the most popular and entertaining contemporary shows that centers Black women, had lots to say about the importance of mental health wellness, and the challenges that mental health issues can pose for us as Black folks. These issues were front and center as the characters navigated relationships, careers and more — and this was all before COVID-19 and a national reckoning on systemic racism.

Now we face the lurking, lethal coronavirus, the sudden desire of white people and companies to talk about race (and the pressure on us as they look to us for answers) and the other parts of our own lives that we have to contend with each day. It’s a lot. And some days it might even feel like too much.

Know that you are not alone. A recent Washington Post report on Census Bureau findings shows that in the week after the murder of George Floyd was widely seen on video, the rate of Black Americans showing signs of anxiety or depressive disorders jumped from 36 percent to 41 percent, higher than any other racial or ethnic group. By comparison, white Americans showed relatively no change, according to the survey.

So even though you’re the sister who seems to have it all together, and even with your solid sister circle, Wednesday prayer group and Friday seven o’clock Zoom happy hour with bubbly, you may still need support — especially if things feel particularly heavy these days.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you find it difficult to get up, get dressed and get out the door when you need to?
  2. Do you struggle to take care of work, personal business, kids and all the other things you’re juggling?
  3. Does “brain fog” keep you from focusing and remembering things?
  4. Do you feel extremely sad or hopeless?
  5. Are you irritable over little things?
  6. Do you sleep too much or not enough?
  7. Do you eat too much or not enough?
  8. Do you have unexplained physical aches?
  9. Are you constantly feeling nervous or tense?
  10. Are you turning to alcohol or substances to help manage the feelings?

If you answer yes to any of these, you may want to explore finding professional support.

Meeting with a therapist doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you. As I tell my clients, from a positive psychology perspective, therapy helps you identify and shore up your strengths, and then use those strengths to address your challenges.

The resources below can help you find mental health support based on your identity, needs, interest and the experience you want to have. Do some due diligence to find a good fit, and ask about teletherapy options if you want to social distance. Many therapist listings allow you to search by location, the type of insurance they accept or out-of-network and sliding scale options. Also check your local hospital and mental health clinics for support groups and individual therapy for those with limited income and no insurance coverage.

  • For specialists in processing trauma, try EMDRIA (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing International Association).
  • To engage your expressive self, try the International Federation for Biblio/Poetry Therapy.
  • For teletherapy (New York residents only) and virtual experiential wellness workshops, try Brooklyn-based, Black-owned
  • The Loveland Foundation provides financial assistance to help Black women and girls access therapy. Click here to sign up for future funding.
  • SAMHSA offers a free national referral helpline for substance abuse: 800-662-HELP (4357).

Whatever route you take, know that what's most important is that you feel secure in knowing that you have the support you need to be your healthiest self.