Survey finds anxiety, depression spiking in Black Americans

Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 2:13 PM EDT
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Between the coronavirus pandemic and recent police brutality cases, many Black Americans say they're struggling emotionally. A Census Bureau survey finds anxiety and depression spiked for Black Americans after the police killing of George Floyd, with 41% reporting significant signs of mental health concerns.

Licensed psychologist Joy Harden Bradford says getting help is critical, but in the Black community, there's still a stigma to overcome.

"Lots of us come from families where it wasn't OK to talk with a therapist, so we don't really understand what happens when you meet with a therapist," Harden Bradford said. "So, I think there's still this dirty little secret, so to speak, about reaching out for help."

Harden Bradford hosts the popular podcast, "Therapy for Black Girls," that focuses on making mental health resources more accessible to Black women. She says the cost of therapy and a shortage of Black therapists are also barriers.

"When we think about the number of psychologists that are Black, it is less than 5%. And so if you are looking for a psychologist to work with, even if every Black person wanted a Black psychologist, there would not be enough of us to go around," Harden Bradford said.

Kelli Evans is quick to share how much she's gained in her time in therapy.

"One of the best things that my therapist told me through all of this is that your feelings are valid," she said.

Between COVID-19's disproportionate impact on Black Americans and police brutality outrage, the last few months have brought significant challenges for African Americans.

"Some people have never experienced this. Even though we are Black people, these are things that are opening all of our eyes and some of us don't know how to deal with it," Evans said.

Evans sees a Black therapist and hopes others will find help if they need it.

"You need to go to the gym, you need to go to the doctor. You need to make sure that your mental health is intact, as well," she said.

Evans says it's more important now than ever during these challenging times.

Many foundations are providing free therapy sessions to those in need right now. Harden Bradford also encourages people to try to find a therapist through their insurance provider.