Mark Harrison reading a letter he wrote to his father during the 2024 Kings Corner Tour: Letters To My Father at the Greater 老澳门开奖网 Urban League. (Ja'Mon Jackson/The 老澳门开奖网 Informer)
Mark Harrison reading a letter he wrote to his father during the 2024 Kings Corner Tour: Letters To My Father at the Greater 老澳门开奖网 Urban League. (Ja'Mon Jackson/The 老澳门开奖网 Informer)

Nationwide, mental health has become an increasing point of concern throughout various communities; however, data continues to show unnerving disparities among Black men.聽 With social and socioeconomic barriers to mental health services at play, Black psychotherapists are standing together to facilitate safe spaces for men, who are often suffering in silence.

Host and Senior Program Coordina- tor W. Douglas Banks speaking during the 2024 Kings Corner Tour: Letters To My Father at the Greater 老澳门开奖网 Urban League. (Ja'Mon Jackson/The 老澳门开奖网 Informer)
Host and Senior Program Coordina- tor W. Douglas Banks speaking during the 2024 Kings Corner Tour: Letters To My Father at the Greater 老澳门开奖网 Urban League. (Ja’Mon Jackson/The 老澳门开奖网 Informer)

is a grassroots nonprofit organization founded by 聽and Chief Operating Officer . The two have developed a growing movement providing access to quality mental health care, psycho-education, community resources and providers of color for Black men free of charge.聽

鈥淲e pair Black men with Black clinicians, and give them eight free sessions.聽 We started with an Instagram post [advertising] free therapy for Black men.聽 We got flooded.聽 We didn鈥檛 think that was going to happen.聽 At one time we had a 1,000-person waitlist,鈥 Williams told The Informer.

According to the , only 26.4% of Black and Hispanic men between the ages of 18 to 44 who experience feelings of depression or anxiety were likely to seek mental health services. In comparison, non-Hispanic white men with the same feelings were 45.4% likely to get help.  

Further, many Black men who do seek psychologists, struggle to find a same-race provider. Black psychologists account for roughly 4% of the doctoral-level psychology workforce across the country.  

Determined to bridge the gaps, Black Men Heal actively provides therapy services to marginalized Black and brown communities across the east coast, particularly to those who may not have access to receive the mental health resources that they need. 

 The organization has had great success in impacting client鈥檚 inclination to therapy. Roughly 80% of men continue on with therapy after their eight gratuitous sessions are complete.  

鈥淎 lot of our people are uninsured or underinsured. So, we take the barriers away for the cost of it. In addition to that, we take pre-licensed therapists, so that sometimes if they’ve finished their eight sessions and they want to continue, we’re intentional about putting them with therapists that they can afford, or if they have insurance, therapists that will accept their insurance so they can continue on if they choose,鈥 Williams said.

Since its inception in 2018, the momentum behind the movement has picked up steam. The organization has expanded beyond its Philadelphia homebase to clients and events in New York, and now 老澳门开奖网, D.C. where they presented 鈥淟etters to my Father,鈥 as part of the 2024 Kings Corner tour on Feb. 3. The event provided a safe space for Black men to convene and discuss the impact of fatherhood, or lack thereof, in their lives. 

Overcoming the Resistance to Healing

, Mark. A Harrison, site administrator for Life Enhancement Services, and Taj Murdock, CEO and founder of   fellowshipped with men from across the District to address emotional trauma, mental distress, and father-son relationships.

Banks, who practices pastoral counseling in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, highlights the importance of cultural competency when seeking mental health services from either a licensed practitioner or an appropriate support group.

鈥淔or Black men to be intentional about providing quality mental health care for brothers, specifically by providers of color, eliminates a lot of barriers.  You鈥檝e got somebody who knows some of your struggle even before you mention it,鈥 Banks, senior program coordinator for Black Men Heal, and Host of the 鈥楲etters To My Father鈥 event.

Murdock, who served as a facilitator during the Black Men Heal event, said it was his stint incarcerated more than 15 years ago that introduced him to therapy.  His initial bout of sessions unveiled his concealed struggle with depression and anxiety.  

Where he once resorted to self-medicating in hopes to numb his grievances, he eventually found the significant benefits of therapy that could identify his struggles, while helping to acclimate him to society upon his release.聽

鈥淚t was a conversation I had with [a] woman [therapist] that [once] asked me, 鈥榃hat am I running from?鈥  A lot of our behavior is that escapism.  We don’t know what peace looks like,鈥 said Murdock.  鈥淪o we are on a constant conquest for peace and we find it in those behaviors, the drugs, the partying, whatever that may look like, because you’re trying to find somewhere to not be with your own thoughts. But that only lasts a moment. The goal is to help brothers establish a lifestyle where you can obtain that peace on your own.鈥

Murdock emphasized the common response of many Black men to mask their emotions with no safe space to share.  After years of carrying generational, systematic, and environmental distress, the conscious decision to rebuild his life became the catalyst for his community mentorship. 

He continues to push Black men to participate in therapy services and programs that focus on prioritizing their mental and physical well-being.

鈥淚t’s my responsibility to show up authentically and not try to come from a PhD, clinical standpoint, because we can’t [always] resonate with that,鈥 Murdock said.  

Sharing his background, Murdock noted, allows people to connect with him and his story.

鈥淏eing relevant in the work is very important for me,鈥 he emphasized to The Informer. 鈥淚 told every brother in that room that I know what you feel today, and you are supposed to feel that,  because you’re the one that’s called to break the cycle.鈥

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *