Juneteenth is short for “June Nineteenth” and marks a very important day in American history. This is the day federal troops entered Galveston, Texas in 1865 and took control to ensure all slaves were freed. Juneteenth is thought to be the longest-running African American holiday. It became an official federal holiday on June 17, 2021.
While slavery was abolished over 250 years ago, there is lingering trauma that has been passed down through the generations in the black community. As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, it’s important to focus on the overall mental health and well-being of the community.
Barriers To Mental Health Care
Historically, the African American community has been faced with certain barriers that have made seeking mental health services challenging.
It is common for members of the black community to experience socioeconomic disparities that make it hard to finance mental health treatment. Recent data suggest that 11% of black adults in this country have no form health insurance.
It is common for people in the black community to have negative attitudes and beliefs about mental health issues and treatment for those issues. In fact, one study found that 63% of black people still believe that admitting to struggling with a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness.
As a result of this lingering stigma, people often feel shame for having a mental health condition and choose to not seek help for fear of being bullied or scorned.
People of color often prefer to speak with therapists within their own community. Speaking with another person of color, who understands the microaggressions and burdens you face on a daily basis, can be tremendously helpful for healing.
Currently, the psychology workforce is predominantly white, which often makes it difficult for BIPOC people to find a therapist they feel comfortable with. It is hoped that in the coming years, more young people of color will take an interest and the initiative to become a trained and licensed therapist.
Making a Commitment
This Juneteenth, it is important that people in the African American community make a commitment to their mental health. It may be helpful for you to get on the phone with a few potential providers and ask some questions to get a sense of their level of cultural awareness. What is their history of treating people of color? How sensitive are they to the plights black people face today?
When you find a provider that can meet your needs, you can begin the journey of healing.