By Taiyler Mitchell, Contributing Writer
Posted 7:30 PM EST, Thurs., Apr. 6, 2017
Have you ever noticed someone talk about counseling or therapy like it was only for crazy people? Have you ever heard someone say it was a waste of time?
According to American Psychological Association’s Cultural Diversity & Ethnic Minority Psychology journal, “A study of African American and Latino youths found that these two groups were much less likely to seek help from professionals than Caucasians, and were more likely to use family resources for their personal problems.” The importance of mental health is especially suppressed among college social circles. Pain is temporary, but GPA is forever. People understand, to an extent, how pressing college classes and new responsibilities can be; but it’s expected that students quickly get over it to get that degree. However, it becomes detrimental when the student can’t find a healthy outlet to relieve their stress.
At an HBCU, the preconceived idea that therapy is a “waste of time” or “only for the mentally ill” may come from the intersection of experiences among black students. The negative stigma placed around seeking therapy in the Black community is no secret. Why seek therapy when I got the Lord? Why would I pay for a counselor when I have friends and a mother who cares? Why would I spend money on therapy when I can use it on something else? Only crazy or depressed people see therapists. The Black community has plenty of pressing issues – and it’s right to prioritize – however, the benefits of a healthy therapeutic relationship can transcend race on an individual level.
Admittedly, not everyone has the privilege nor the financial means to make mental health their first priority, but many schools offer free counseling services that every student should take advantage of. The Howard University Counseling Service (HUCS) is free, useful and accessible to students on Monday through Friday with appointments 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Monday, Wednesday and Friday during intake hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). More information can be found on the HUCS website.
HUCS and other counseling services have countless benefits. Some notable advantages are: Gaining an awareness of your triggers and habits, developing a more in-depth understanding of who you are, attaining a sense of personal control, relieving stress, allowing yourself a place to vent and learning how to stay motivated when reaching goals.
Committing to seeing a therapist regularly is not an option for everyone, but when it is, it’s an opportunity that should not be passed up. Perhaps a portion in both college students and the Black community perceive pursuing counseling as weak when (in reality) it builds a stronger mental character than before. It’s important to dispel the negative view of therapy among college students and the Black community when the benefits lead to a healthy, happy lifestyle.