Strengthen Mental Health By Embracing Culture

One in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and adult African Americans are 20% more likely to experience mental health issues compared to the general population.

“The factors that cause or exacerbate mental illness are often found in higher numbers among minorities,” said Dr. Rufus Spann, a chief clinical officer with Henry Health, a culturally sensitive mental health organization. “Tackling this problem requires a unique understanding of cultural differences.”

Organizations like Henry Health make access to mental health care accessible and convenient for minorities, removing barriers to seeking treatment. The organization offers culturally intentional care delivered by practitioners equipped to treat any population dealing with emotional and mental health issues, and believes effective care follows three essential principles: it puts culture first, is evidence-based and is built on best practices.

This means culture and life experiences are at the center of therapy. Patients can expect their narratives will be not only heard and acknowledged but also put into perspective to help gain a greater understanding of their experiences.

Research shows therapists whose patients perceive them as having cultural humility deliver improved therapy outcomes. That’s why Henry Health therapists complete training that equips them with the skills needed to effectively address issues of race, ethnicity, class and culture. A scientifically validated tool measures therapists’ cultural responsiveness and provides education and coaching to improve their cultural humility.

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In addition to cultural considerations, therapy involves the noted clinical best practices of cognitive-behavioral therapy and trauma-informed care. Cognitive behavior therapy is a widely used therapeutic technique that has lasting impacts on mental health outcomes while trauma-informed care ensures patients have access to safe spaces to examine, process, and transcend trauma.

Getting Started

It’s normal to be unsure or hesitant about trying therapy. Some organizations even offer free 15-minute consultations so you can speak with a therapist before officially registering.

When you are ready to start therapy, the process is usually simple. For example, through Henry Health, you begin with an online registration form, receive an email matching you with a therapist, login to the member portal to schedule an appointment, and join your session from the convenience of a phone, tablet or computer.

Visit for more information or to register.

Common Stressors

Culturally responsive care can help improve a variety of stressors, including:

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  • Anger
  • Trauma
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Domestic violence
  • Family and relationships
  • Money and finances
  • Race and racism
  • Health and illness
  • Jobs and career
  • Grief and loss
  • Substance use
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

Live to Thrive

Working constantly to get ahead without regard to the impact on your body, mind or productivity may produce the results you desire in the short-term, but the long-term implications are typically less favorable. Shifting your focus from the familiar grind to your mental well-being is a process you can tackle one step at a time.

Get started with these tips from Men Thrive, a digital community designed by Black men for Black men that focuses on providing the tools they need to thrive rather than simply survive.

Check In

Be honest with yourself about how and what you’re feeling. Acknowledge your feelings even if you can’t name them. It can be more powerful than you may think. Then schedule a wellness call to assess your current quality of mental and physical health.

Talk to Your Tribe

Decide what you need from the people closest to you and be that to them. Identify a moment you would normally say, “I’m good” when you’re actually not and talk about what’s on your mind. Be honest if you don’t know what to do with what you feel and acknowledge that you’re tired of ignoring it, bottling it in and feeling the pressure.

Seek Culturally Responsive Advice

Seek information and advice from an expert, like a therapist, who has professional and cultural intelligence that relates to your experiences and story. Research shows treatment outcomes greatly improve when cultural and historical knowledge are included in the approach to care.

Engage in the Process

Place your focus on showing up whole, operating with joy and living with power. Aggressively pursue actions required to achieve a thriving lifestyle.

Join a Community

A sense of community is essential to improving your mental health. A resource like Men Thrive can give you access to a community and a set of powerful self-mastery tools such as live segments, podcasts and guided meditation.

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Photos courtesy of Getty Images

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