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empowering bipoc teens blog Christina Cummings

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. In 2008, Bebe Moore Campbell inspired this initiative to bring awareness to the challenges that ethnic groups face and to improve mental health support and resources for minority groups. Empowering BIPOC teens requires intentionality and care from the whole community. However, BIPOC communities tend to struggle the most with seeking out emotional support due to the stigma of therapy.

Talking about mental health and emotions can be taboo because people fear being perceived as “weak” or “crazy” and lack knowledge about mental health. Many people also view therapy as a luxury that they cannot afford or access. As a teen in these communities, it makes it even harder to receive the support you need because you are sometimes unable to take the necessary steps on your own. 

Imagine you are a BIPOC teen asking for help from your parents or guardians and they tell you: 

“Why would you want to tell a stranger your business?” 

“What happens in this house stays in this house.” 

“Our money can be going to something more important than therapy.” 

“Just pray about it.” 

“You don’t have a reason to feel stressed. You don’t pay bills, you don’t work. Why do you feel depressed?”

“Just suck it up. Our ancestors went through worse. If they could handle what they went through, you can get over this.” 

Being a teen is very hard and confusing. It can become overwhelming trying to balance school, extracurricular activities, figuring out who you are, learning the world around you and thinking about the future. As a BIPOC teen, you can feel even more stressed, because you are constantly reminded that you are different and have unique struggles that not everyone understands or experiences. It can feel lonely when not only do your friends and peers around you not get it, but you feel that the adults in your life won’t understand because you’ve heard those statements above a million times. 

So, you ask yourself what to do and who to turn to. 

It is important to remember that your feelings matter. You must make space for processing your emotions or else you risk things building up to a boiling point that is hard to come back from. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. It takes a lot of courage to deal with hard emotions. Doing so allows you to have more control over your emotions instead of allowing them to control you. 

If you are struggling with your mental health, you do not have to keep it to yourself and you do not have to deal with it alone. Talk to a friend that you trust. Ask a teacher that you are comfortable with if they have any resources. Find a school counselor – this option is free and the most accessible due to school counselors being in school with you. And if you worry about your family finding out, that’s okay. A school counselor can help navigate those steps with you. 

Taking the first step to seeking support can be hard. But you deserve to be heard. 

If you have any questions, including what therapy might look like, how we strive to make therapy accessible, or how confidentiality works, feel free to reach out to us. Click here if you want to learn more about working with Christina.

About the Author

Specialty Areas

Self Harming Behaviors | Anxiety | Family Therapy | Children | Women’s Mental Health | LGBTQIA+ | Men’s Mental Health ADHD

My Therapy Approach Uses

CBT | ACT | DBT

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