IN THIS ARTICLE:
It is no secret that the mental health of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color) is disproportionately affected compared to that of their white counterparts. According to Mental Health America, 17% of Black people and 23% of Native Americans live with a mental illness. People who identify as two or more races are more likely to report mental illness than any other racial or ethnic group. This is because, along with the internal struggles and trauma that many people face, BIPOC must also withstand racial injustices that intersect every facet of their lives. These hardships that fall on entire communities have detrimental effects on mental health and contribute to increased anxiety, depression, and stress.
Facing The Problem
Research shows that BIPOC groups are less likely to have access to mental health services and more likely to receive poor quality care. Many BIPOC may fail to seek out professional help for the sake of their mental health due to a lack of options. Additionally, there is a widespread distrust of the medical field among BIPOC because of past medical crimes committed against POC, like the Tuskegee experiment. As well as the fact that Black people currently have higher mortality and malpractice rates at the hands of doctors than any other group in the country.
In addition, many BIPOC individuals also fail to prioritize mental health due to the stigma surrounding mental illness and therapy that exists in their communities. This is due to the fact that many BIPOC groups, like the Black community, prioritize resilience and perseverance through all. Things like sadness and anxiety are often downplayed in the face of greater struggles. This makes it even less likely that members of these communities will feel comfortable seeking outside help for the sake of their mental health.
Substance Abuse Among People of Color
It is for these reasons that many BIPOC may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse. Compared to the 7.7% of whites that reported substance abuse in 2019, American Indians and Alaska Natives had the highest rate of substance abuse and dependence, at 10.2%. While about 7.6% of African Americans struggled with substance use disorders in 2019, 7% of Hispanics and Latinos suffered from substance use disorders.
In order to end this cycle of unhealthy coping, we must inform our communities of the resources and services that are available to them.
Professional help is often the only way to overcome chronic substance abuse. Admission to an addiction treatment center is strongly recommended. There are all types of treatment centers, but the primary levels of care include drug and alcohol detox centers, residential treatment, partial day treatment, and IOP.
General BIPOC Resources
These are some general resources that are available and accessible to all people of color and are intended to provide information, access, and guidance toward finding mental health and substance abuse care that is specific to BIPOC issues:
- Crisis Line for Racial Equity Support: This service line is dedicated to and staffed by BIPOC, who all possess lived experience of racism that enables them to effectively provide support. Call 503-575-3764 Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm PST.
- BEAM: A directory of Black medical professionals spanning from therapists to doulas– they are dedicated to matching Black people with inclusive and informed providers.
- Well for Culture: A grassroots initiative aiming to reclaim and revitalize Indigenous health and wellness.
- Melanin and Mental Health: A group connecting individuals with culturally competent clinicians committed to serving the mental health needs of BIPOC.
- Just Healing: A resource site centered around aiding BIPOC communities who are fighting for justice against oppression.
- The Fireweed Collective: Formerly known as The Icarus Project, the Fireweed Collective offers mental health education and mutual aid for all people while centering on the needs of those most marginalized by our society.
- Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation Resource Directory: Virtual directory of mental health providers, programs, and resource materials for the African-American community
- Liberate Meditation: An app that acts as a safe space for the BIPOC to develop a daily meditation habit.
- The Nap Ministry: An organization that facilitates immersive workshops and curates performance art that examines rest as a radical tool for community healing.
- Ourselves Black: A Platform that provides relevant, current, and engaging mental health content and stories specifically routed in communities of color.
- Real: An app that offers free therapy services to help people of color cope, including group support series 4 times/week.
- Protect Your Mental: A community space created by a WOC to educate millennials on the topic of mental health and empower them to practice and protect their mental on a daily basis.
Youth & College Student Resources
Some helpful resources intended for young and college-aged BIPOC include:
- The Steve Fund: An organization dedicated to the mental health and emotional well-being of students of color through crisis response and financial assistance.
- Concerned Black Men of America: This organization connects children of color to mental health resources and role models. They offer parent-focused programs on career development and adult literacy.
- Young People of Color: An online support community for young people of color that includes daily check-ins, celebrations, icebreakers, and Q&As.
- Indigenous Story Studios: A non-profit dedicated to increasing mental health awareness among indigenous youth through illustrations, videos, posters, and comic books.
- WeRNative: A comprehensive health resource for Native youth by Native youth, promoting holistic health and positive growth through the teachings of Native culture, history, and current events.
- Indian Country Child Trauma Center: A program that develops trauma-related treatment protocols, outreach materials, and service delivery guidelines specifically designed for American Indian and Alaska Native children and their families.
- Circles of Care: A three-year grant program geared toward American Indian and Alaska Native communities. It helps children with severe emotional disturbances and their families obtain funding for tribal communities to improve youth mental health and provide a community-based support system.
- Center for Native American Youth: A national education and advocacy organization that works alongside Native youth—ages 24 and under—on reservations, in rural villages and urban spaces across the country to improve their health, safety, and overall well-being.
BIPOC individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ have a wealth of helpful resources that can address some of the specific issues they may be facing. A few of these resources include:
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network: This organization is committed to transforming the mental health of queer and trans people of color.
- The Trevor Project: National organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to all LGBTQ+ youth, with an emphasis on protecting the Black community.
- LGBTQ Psychotherapists of Color: A directory that matches LGBTQs of Color with licensed psychotherapists that are also a part of the same community. They also provide support, networking, leadership development, and community-building opportunities for LGBTQs of Color in psychology, social work, and counseling.
- The Lesbians of Color Symposium (LOCS) Collective: A nonprofit dedicated to enriching the lives of LBTQ+ women and non-binary people of color through providing services and programming designed to educate, encourage and empower.
- House of Rebirth: A transformative housing initiative and community safe space led by Black Trans Women to assist Black Trans Women affected by oppression by offering resident services and community programs.
- Center for Black Equity: This multinational LGBTQ+ network is dedicated to improving health and wellness opportunities, economic empowerment, and equal rights while promoting individual and collective work, responsibility, and self-determination.
- Rest for Resistance: This site contains articles written for queer persons of color by queer persons of color, providing reminders and tips to help you rest and recover.
- Trans Lifeline: This grassroots hotline and non-profit organization offers direct emotional and financial support to trans people in crisis. Ran by trans people, for trans people.
Resources for the Disabled
There are also multiple resources for disabled BIPOC individuals, including:
- The Harriet Tubman Collective: A group of Black deaf & Black disabled organizers, community builders, activists, dreamers, lovers striving for radical inclusion and collective liberation.
- HEARD: Volunteer-based organization working to end violence against and incarceration of disabled people going through the justice system.
- Autistic People of Color Fund: A fund for community reparations for autistic People of Color’s interdependence, survival and empowerment.
- Women for Political Change: A mutual aid fund that prioritizes BIPOC, LGBTQ, sick or disabled, immigrants, the unemployed, survivors of violence, parents or caretakers, and people experiencing homelessness.
- National Alliance of Multicultural Disabled Advocates: This is a network of organizers across the country who invest in the livelihood and leadership of Black and Brown people with disabilities. Their mission is to increase the representation and success of Black and Brown people with disabilities.
- Black Disability Collective: An online community space dedicated to uplifting and advocating for Black disabled lives.
- Disability Art and Culture Project (DACP): This organization furthers the artistic expression of people with both apparent and non-apparent disabilities by supporting creative expression of people with disabilities and supporting established and emerging artists, as well as the community at large, in developing knowledge and expression of disability culture and pride.
Domestic Violence Resources
Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality among all races and ethnicities, and some BIPOC-specific domestic violence resources include:
- The Bradley Angle Healing Roots Program: A program that provides resources that offer healing and connection for Black survivors of domestic abuse. They provide a 24-hour crisis line at 503-235-5333.
- The National Organization of Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA): This is a Women of Color-led non-profit committed to ensuring that systems-wide policies and social change initiatives related to sexual assault are informed by critical input and direction of Women of Color.
- Strong Hearts Native Helpline: Chat online daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT with this safe, anonymous and confidential domestic, dating, and sexual violence helpline for American Indians and Alaska Natives, offering culturally appropriate support and advocacy. They also provide a 24/7 helpline at 1-844-762-8483.
- The Network/LA Red: A social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, SM, polyamorous, and queer communities through anti-oppression principles, organizing, education, and the provision of support services. They also provide a 24-hour crisis line at 617-742-4911.
- Women of Color Network Inc.: This group works in and beyond the fields of domestic violence and sexual assault to address a broad range of violence affecting communities of color such as human trafficking, police brutality, and over-incarceration.
- INCITE!: A network of radical feminists of color organizing to end state violence and violence in our homes and communities.
- No More: This foundation is dedicated to ending domestic violence and sexual assault against all genders by increasing awareness, inspiring action, and fueling cultural change.
Substance Abuse Resources
Substance abuse is a major issue within BIPOC communities for a variety of reasons. Having culturally sensitive and appropriate care can go a long way toward supporting someone’s recovery, and some helpful BIPOC-specific substance abuse resources include:
- BIPOC Only Recovery Dharma: A virtual support group for BIPOC in recovery that is inspired by Buddhist techniques.
- One Sky Center: This group is working to improve the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use problems among Native people through mentorship and access to resources.
- IHS Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention: This program is focused on methamphetamine and suicide prevention and intervention resources for Indian Country. This initiative promotes the use and development of evidence-based and culturally appropriate prevention and treatment approaches.
- Tribal Affairs: Information on services the government agency provides to Native American communities to prevent suicide and substance abuse.
- White Bison: An American Indian/Alaska Native non-profit charitable organization offering sobriety, recovery, addictions prevention, and wellness (Wellbriety) learning resources to the Native American/Alaska Native community nationwide.
- YMSM + LGBT Center of Excellence: This organization delivers culturally responsive and evidence-based prevention and treatment services for minority lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations dealing with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
Resources for Women
Gender-specific resources for mental health and substance abuse recovery can be extremely helpful for allowing someone to relate to others who have similar lived experiences. Some of these BIPOC women-specific resources include:
- The Loveland Foundation: A non-profit organization offering financial assistance to Black women and girls seeking therapy.
- Therapy for Black Girls: This space was developed to present mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant. They offer resources, guides, and a directory of mental health practices that are run by Black women for Black women.
- Sista Afya: A social enterprise that provides low-cost mental wellness services that center the experiences of Black women. They are dedicated to sustaining the mental wellness of Black women through connection to resources and the support of one another.
- Pretty Brown Girl: This organization empowers Black and Brown girls while encouraging self-acceptance by cultivating social, emotional, and intellectual well-being.
- Black Women’s Health Imperative: A nonprofit organization created by Black women to help protect and advance the health and wellness of Black women and girls.
- Black Girls Smile: This nonprofit provides young black women education, resources, and support to lead mentally healthy lives and highlights the under-served and underrepresented mental health needs of young Black women.
- National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center: A Native-led non-profit with goals to end violence against Indigenous women by uplifting the collective voices of advocates and offering culturally grounded resources, assistance, and training to strengthen tribal sovereignty.
Resources for Men
Mental health and substance abuse are often overlooked or even stigmatized in BIPOC communities. These helpful resources can connect BIPOC men who are struggling with the care and support they may need. Some of these BIPOC men mental health and substance abuse resources include:
- Brother, You’re on My Mind: This organization was created by Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. To change the stigma surrounding the mental health of Black men through education and community.
- Black Men Heal: A program that provides access to mental health treatment, psycho-education, and community resources to men of color in order to remove the stigma.
- Therapy for Black Men: This rapidly growing directory of 135 therapists and 27 coaches throughout the fifty states provides judgment-free, multiculturally competent care to Black men with the purpose of breaking the stigma that asking for help is a sign of weakness.
- Black Men Speak: An inspirational speaker’s bureau that informs, educates, and enlightens the general public about issues concerning African American males and Men of Color suffering from mental health and substance abuse challenges by means of storytelling.
- YBMen Project: This is an educational and social support program for young Black men, teaching the strategies that influence and shape young Black men’s ideas and experiences with mental health.
- Transparent Black Guy: An online community working to destigmatize the mental health of Black men through their social media which includes witty commentary, photography, and art centered on Black people and mental health resources.