Photo: Luis Araujo
When it comes to conversations of mental health, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that men are often less likely to want to talk about their emotions or seek treatment in the form of therapy, largely because of existing stigma surrounding men and self-care. Worse, for men of color, their relationship with therapy might be even more strained, in part, because racial minorities have typically lacked equitable access to quality mental health care. Together, the impact of this stigma and shortage of resources is harrowing and can seriously worsen the health of men of color everywhere.
In a conversation for Men's Health, Dr. Zeshen Wu, M.D., chatted with Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, M.D., to discuss some of the causes behind this pervasive issue. According to Dr. Brown, part of this stigma can also be explained by one systemic problem: a lack of apparent diversity in mental healthcare, which might serve as a potential barrier to those men and women of color seeking treatment. “People sometimes think, ‘if I go and see someone who doesn’t look like me, they’re just going to treat me like a prisoner when I really need the help.’”
For Dr. Brown and Dr. Wu, there's a relatively simple solution to this problem—bring in more therapists of color in order to serve the communities that need it more, therefore raising awareness for mental health and alleviating the stigma.
“I find that representation in medicine is really important in getting people to just feel comfortable about getting help,” Dr. Wu says. “It’s already hard enough for some people to seek help in the first place… So to see somebody that looks like you, may seem like they understand some of these cultural stigmas a little bit better and talk to you, that can really help people open up."
“Having multicultural representation in medicine, I think, is ultimately one of the most important things we can do to be more inviting, be more accessible to people from different cultural backgrounds.”
And if you're struggling to find local resources, start with websites and apps like Black Therapists Rock and Ayana.