Few people know that August is Black Mental Health Awareness month, and with so much going on in the world, Black mental health is extremely important.
Black people are facing a multiplicity of anxieties and traumas when it comes to police brutality, the pandemic, and a plethora of other concerns.
For years, there has been stigma surrounding healthcare in the Black community due to the historical experimentation on Black people throughout history. From the theft of Henrietta Lacks’s cells to the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, Black lives have been exploited for the financial gain of the medical industrial complex, and many Black communities are justifiably cautious when it comes to seeking help.
This extends beyond physical problems and also applies to issues in mental health. While Black people experience so many different systemic vulnerabilities already, the stigma surrounding mental health can feel overwhelming. However, seeking out mental health support is actually what can be the greatest support system for the Black community, especially through Black therapists and psychologists who understand psychology and Black identity.
BGN was able to catch up with Dr. M. Kambon, a culturally rooted Black therapist who has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over 35 years.
“My focus has been on our people,” Kambon explained. “I consider myself African centered, that the center of what I think is around Black people. I promote wellness, wholeness, and humanity for Black people.”
Kambon is a member of Black Therapy Central, a Black-owned and operated organization of mental health specialists who, as Kambon said, “…believe that our people deserve safe spaces to heal from collective trauma and from damaging personal experiences. Grounding healing in African-centered psychology can allow us all to rise to our historical greatness and allow you to release the greatness inside you.”
The organization invites Black community members to use their platform to evaluate their wellness and explore services that offer support for general and specific concerns. The website allows people to join the online community and connect with others, connect with Black therapists and professionals, and receive news on any upcoming Black Therapy Central events.
“I’m a co-founder of Black Therapy Central,” Kambon said, “and have galvanized for the purpose of helping our people understand that there are ways of going about healing in multiplicities. There is not just one way.”
Black Therapy Central approaches healing from the lens of multigenerational trauma. They assert that for Black people, there has been a long existing cycle of anxiety, depression, and other issues that are passed down from generation to generation.
“It goes back to our roots. We look at ourselves as coming out of the heart of Africa, and therefore there were traditions that have gone on for tens of thousands of years that undergird us. And certainly, you cannot start a tree with the trunk. You must reach down deep into the soil, into the roots, and capture the essence of what is there. We can’t replicate everything that was there, but we must understand that our foundational roots come from there and that we had many ways to address every single problem that existed for us and that it happened in community.”
Kambon and others that are part of Black Therapy Central understand the need for Black people to heal in numerous ways. From healing meditation to their Speak Out! Rage, Resistance, Rebellion, Revolution, Restoration Global Black Forum, there is something for everyone.
In order to heal as a collective, Black Therapy Central understands the importance of working together.
“We have to rebuild what community means for us,” Kambon said. “And we have been moved away from that, so that we’ve become more individualistic like our oppressors. But we have always had a tradition, and it still carries today when we look out for each other. Developing and forming communities is one way of doing. On Black Therapy Center, we have webinars and a radio program, where we try to bring messages to people on these topics.”
Now especially, Black people should be reassured that they are not alone. Even if things often feel insurmountable, there are Black professionals dedicated to ensuring that Black voices are not only heard, but also nourished through therapy and love.
Kambon added, “African centered therapy takes that person into the room, but we know that person doesn’t come in by themselves. There’s a whole army around. There’s a whole army within. They have come from their ancestors. They are the answers. We want to connect to help them facilitate their own healing by finding the stories that are already there, not focusing on the pathology.”
By focusing on the interconnectedness of African and Black American traditions, Black Therapy Central seeks to comfort individuals with the promise that they aren’t alone — they have a tribe.
“There are many projects out here now that do group therapy, therapies for first responders, therapies for community, and therapies for organizations. We try to do that because we understand that it’s hard to deal with the problems that exist,” Kambon explained.
With so many options, some may find it’s overwhelming, but truth is that someone is there to help new patients during every step of the process. There is no shame in seeking therapy, but many celebrations and self-affirmations that it could lead to.
Black Therapy Central offers various themes, activities and meditations that can offer a variety of catharsis for people who try them. “I invite people who come to Black Therapy Central and come and read over the bios of a therapist. Read our mission, explore our site and look at our guided meditations.”
Even if someone is unsure if therapy is right for them. Kambon assures everyone that there is no obligation to sign up for anything but encourages those in the Black community to try it.
Upon arriving on the site, Kambon explains, “You will see what I have to say, not only about the things that I’ve done, but also my perspective on going about assisting you with the healing. I see myself as a facilitator in the healing process. You can also talk to someone who has had a positive experience with healing, with therapy. They may guide you to someone who you may feel comfortable with. Also, know that if your first therapist is not someone that you feel comfortable with, then you can fire that person and find another.”
Things have never been easy for Black people. It’s okay to need help, support, and guidance during any and all troubling times. If you ever need to find a tribe that offers loving therapy through an Afrocentric lens, make sure to drop by Black Therapy Central. Also, never forget that Black mental health matters.
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Danielle Broadway is an English Literature MA student at California State University, Long Beach. She has been published in Black Girl Nerds, LA Weekly and Medium, is a writer for CSULB’s the Daily49er, is a managing editor for Watermark, her school’s academic literary journal and is an assistant editor at Angels Flight • literary west. She’s an activist and educator that is inspired by her family to make social change both in the classroom and beyond.