We are at the point in 2022 where saying Happy New Year is no longer acceptable (or I hope) but for some, your new year is about to start in March, and that is okay! It is never too late for a fresh start. In this self-proclaimed New Year, starting March 2022, I want us all to be in pursuit of wholeness. We are committing to the betterment of ourselves in all aspects of our lives. We are leaving that job that no longer serves us, we are getting our savings together, retirement funds and the works. However, none of these matter if our mental health is doing all manner of gymnastics. Your mental health is your wealth, corny but sit with that one.
2020 shook my world, as I am assuming it did for all of us. As someone who preached about having good mental health, 2020 truly surely tested me on that. By the end of 2020, I thought, “Okay, that’s it, it can only go up from here”. Well, I SURE thought because 2021 came with a vengeance. I mean, anxiety, overthinking, burnout, all of it.
Why go to therapy?
Now, I am not Dr. Reni, nor do I have MSW or any of those certifications next to my name. I am here to give what I have and what I have is all I can give.
Therapy is SUPER taboo in the Black community and as a Black Nigerian who is also Christian, I get it, I do. I know your friend is a great listener, your mom is an usher at church (mine too, girl), you are super tight with your pastor and Jesus Christ is your living hope. But that professional help? Hits different.
We have all been through some form of trauma and before you say no, COVID? The Panasonic? The Pon de Replay? Collective trauma sis. Trauma is any event that has caused you some form of distress. Before I decided to quit my job in October of 2021, I was experiencing immense burnout and I realized that I was not functioning as my peak self. While it may seem tiny, whatever trauma you face, if not dealt with properly, at the root, can fester and start showing up in different areas of your life.
Have you ever heard someone say that it is better to get a fracture than a sprain? The logic behind it is that while a sprain seems less dramatic, it can take up to 6 months to heal and may even be permanent compared to a fracture which takes 6 to 8 weeks to heal. Once you have fractured a bone, you are stopped in your tracks and will experience immediate discomfort. While with a sprain, you are able to function with it for the most part, and so you are less likely to seek professional help, which prolongs the healing process. Similarly, with “small” trauma, or distressing events that we are able to function with, we are less likely to seek professional help which then prolongs the healing process.
Do I need Therapy?
The goal is never to get to a place where you need therapy. Prior to 2021, I had been thinking about therapy but I was not yet comfortable with the idea of telling a random person all my business. Don’t let that be you! Close to the end of 2021, I had gotten to a place where therapy was no longer a ‘want’ or a mere ‘desire’, but something I needed to do.
There is a negative stigma attached to seeking mental healthcare when the goal of therapy is to help us function optimally. You do not need to be “crazy” to seek therapy but sometimes we need a little extra push to get us to where we need to be.
So, do you need therapy? If you have been asking yourself this question the short answer is yes.
How to find a Therapist
Unfortunately, we were not assigned therapists at birth (I know, wild right?), so you have to go out and find one. Let’s call a spade a spade, therapy is EXPENSIVE but it is necessary work. The general cost ranges from $80-$200 which makes it very inaccessible for a lot of people, but I also have some free resources that I will share with you after.
Finding a therapist is tough because as much as they are getting to know you, you also have to get to know them, and at your expense. It’s almost like dating but you are paying for the meal every. single. time. (go little rockstar). To help the process go smoother, Therapy for Black Girls curated a list of 5 questions for you to ask during your therapy consultation to help you determine if the therapist is the right fit.
Once you have these questions at hand, here are two websites to help you with your search:
- Althea Therapy https://www.altheatherapy.com
Althea Therapy is a resource designed to support Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) in Canada in their pursuit of mental health services. The website has various resources geared at supporting you along your mental health journey.
- Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca
Psychology Today is a database that allows you to find therapists, treatment centres and support groups in your area. All you need to do is put your city in the search bar and a list of support persons will pop up. You are also able to filter based on issues, insurance, gender, types of therapy, age, price range, ethnicity, sexuality, language, and faith.
Free Mental Health Resources
As I said before, therapy is very costly and before I decided to commit to a therapist, I started with free therapy.
- Mind Beacon offers free mental health support for Ontario residents dealing with stress, anxiety, depression and more, thanks to funding from the Government of Ontario.
- Abiliti CBT is an internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (iCBT) program available to residents of Manitoba and Ontario 16+ for free.
- Therapy for Black girls is an online space that is dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. Dr. Joy Harden Bradford hosts a weekly podcast and shares various tips for maintaining positive mental health.
- Her Therapy Space Journal is not free but is a cheaper option for you if you are still deciding whether you want to commit to therapy or if you are already in therapy and are looking for a journal to go “beyond the couch”.
Mental health work is never a quick fix and I would not want you to start your journey thinking this. It takes time, money and work. Yes, after you have spent your money, there is work that you have to put in to see results. I dare you to invest in your mental health this year and if you have decided to start, feel free to reach out to me to share your journey.