Major depression has been discovered to be the single largest cause of disability in the world, despite that fact, it routinely goes unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated. (Courtesy of BET)
Major depression has been discovered to be the largest cause of disability in the world, despite that fact, it routinely goes unrecognized, undiagnosed and untreated. (Courtesy of BET)

One of the most overlooked aspects of health and wellness is inexplicably mental health. There is truly a huge lack of awareness and emphasis on this important aspect of being healthy especially within the African-American community. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources available to assist anyone looking for help. If you’re seeking a psychologist, counselor, therapist or a support group there are many options available and you can be as specific as you want when it comes to selecting the right practitioner for your specific needs or preferences. In addition to being able to pick your ideal mental health professional there are also various price points and insurance options available to you in order to make your experience as practical and positive as possible.

Finding a Doctor

There are many ways to go about finding a great therapist or counselor in your area. Your primary care physician is definitely a good place to start. She/he should be able to recommend someone within your coverage network and local. If you don’t have a PCP or prefer to find one on your own begin with there you can filter your search as finely as you want (e.g. race, gender, specific issues, faith etc.). The sad reality is that only 5.3% of psychologists here are Black (even fewer male) Dr. Tiffany Latham Doctor of Clinical Psychology suggests looking into The Association of Black Psychologists for a larger collection of black mental health professionals’. There are also counseling centers on the campuses of all the major universities in the area with practicing doctors and graduates completing their residencies available to assist you as well.

Payment Options

If you have insurance depending on your premium and benefits you may be able to obtain psychiatric services with little to no co-pay (ranging from $0-$50 per session). Many levels of coverage offer this option, from state/local health exchanges to HMO’s and large health care providers. The exchanges have subsidies where your premium is based on your income, in some cases offering an even further discount. Without insurance therapy can get quite costly so be sure to check all of your options first. There are also many free/low cost options you can explore if you aren’t covered (which you should be!). As aforementioned many colleges and universities (Georgetown, Howard, GW) in the area offer free/low-cost psychiatric services in their clinics conducted by professors and graduates completing their programs.

Getting Started

Once you’ve decided to get serious about your mental health be sure to do your research and choose an option you can stick with. Mental health is a journey and the work never truly ends, the progress you make is all up to you!

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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