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Explaining Racial Trauma To A White Therapist Isn’t Always Easy, Here’s Why Seeing A Therapist Of Color Might Be Better

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness month, a time of year the U.S. Government designated to “bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental illness in the United States”. And with good reason.

Chilling statistics tell us that while 41.5% of children aged 12-17 received care for a major depressive episode, the percentage of minority children that received treatment is much lower, with 35.1% of black children and only 32.7% of Latino kids receiving care. The reasons behind this are varied. Not only are minorities more likely to be misdiagnosed and less likely to receive appropriate care due to clinician bias, but according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, minorities are also “less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care”, due to a variety of socioeconomic factors. We know that mental illness is a cultural issue that permeates every aspect of society, so the problem, then, lies in awareness, diagnosis, and treatment. 

The idea of consulting a therapist for professional help seems like overkill, a little foreign, and definitely a little scary. We’ve all head the common refrain: “Isn’t therapy for crazy people?”. Not at all. Therapy is simply a way of practicing self-care and should have no greater stigma surrounding it than going to the doctor for a check-up. In 2017, a study showed that 18.9% of adults in the U.S. had a mental illness. That’s 46.6 million people! Statistics like this simply prove how much therapy could benefit the population. 

Luckily, we live in a time where millennials are no longer as afraid of talking about their struggles with mental health or afraid of getting outside help to deal with them. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, five times as many college students went to therapy in 2017 as compared to the years between 2011 and 2016. According to Peter Economou, a professor of Applied Psychology at Rutgers: “treatment has become de-stigmatized so people are more open to it”. But, we still have a long way to go. 

The Latino community, like many marginalized communities, is notoriously conservative when it comes to views on mental illness. As Twitter user @itsk80prince put it so perfectly: “talking about mental health in Latino families be like: “eres un emo?”. Many Latino families believe that problems should be discussed with a priest or maybe with your girlfriends during a round of chisme.

Before you start your search for a therapist, keep the following points in mind:

1. Do your research about their ethnic background and background in treating certain demographics.

There’s no shame in wanting a therapist who either looks like you or might come from a similar upbringing as you do. Often times, these are the therapists who can make us feel the most understood, related to and comforted. Having to explain racial trauma to a therapist who might not be able to relate or validate your feelings will undoubtedly bring you way more frustration in the end. “I’m a Latina who identifies as queer and started to see a white female therapist after I found myself going through a lot of depression while trying to get a job at a new company,” one woman explained to FIERCE in an interview. “All was well at first but after a while, I realized that talking about the frustrations I was experiencing were not being registered her accepted by her. For example, speaking to her about the frustrations of being interviewed by white men over and over again was okay but speaking about the racist microaggressions I would experience under my white female boss was always met with questions about why I thought my boss’s behavior was racist even at all. Ultimately I left her and started seeing a black female therapist who gets my situation so much more and I feel so much more validated.” 

2. Know the difference between a Counselor vs. a Therapist vs. a Psychologist

Counselors don’t require an advanced degree and, in fact, the term “counselor” kind of works as an umbrella term for therapists, social workers, and psychologists. Therapists, on the other hand, usually need a minimum of a Master’s degree in Psychology, Social Work, or Marriage and Family Therapy in order to call themselves a therapist. Psychologists are required to hold at least a Masters degree in psychology, with many opting for a doctorate.

3. Okay, so you want the Ph.D. Will you be needing a psychologist or psychiatrist? 

Newbies to therapy might not be aware of the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, so it’s good to keep in mind the difference before starting your search. While a psychologist assesses, analyzes and observes your behavior in order to alleviate mental stress, a psychiatrist does all of the above and is also a licensed physician, meaning they can also prescribe medication, such as antidepressants. 

If you’re really struggling with depression, anxiety and/or psychosis and your mood makes it hard for you to function in day-to-day life, then your problems may be caused by a chemical imbalance. Medication might give you the extra help you need to get your mood back on track.

4. Do you want this time to be solo?

It may not come as a shock to you to know that many people consider relationships to be one of the most stressful aspects of life. Consider couples or family therapy as an option if you feel like you need help mediating inter-relational problems, or even if you’d just like an outside opinion on your relationships. Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) specialize in familial interactions and work on improving communication between family members. 

5. Identity matters.

Don’t feel guilty about preferring a therapist who understands first-hand the struggle that you go through on a daily basis. That means that if you prefer a therapist who identifies the same way as you do (gender, sexual orientation, race and/or ethnicity), it is completely within your rights to pick that therapist. If you’re more comfortable with therapist who specializes in LGBTQ+ issues or identifies as Latino, then that’s completely your choice.  

6. Utilize all of your resources. 

Remember, there have been so many people that have come before you that have been in your shoes. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from open-minded friends and family members. Also, know that there are tons of resources available to you online. The internet is chock-full of lists, databases, directories, and networks, all created with the express purpose of providing mental health care to Latino and marginalized communities. Databases like this can point you in the right director. Or even ask your healthcare provider to connect you with therapists who identify the same way as you do.

7. Take your therapist for a test drive. 

If you’re worried about committing to a therapist straight of the bat, ask for a trial session first so you know if you have chemistry (or have the possibility of building a rapport) with your mental healthcare provider. Sometimes, everything about your potential therapist can look great on paper, but once you meet in person, the connection just isn’t there. 

Once you arrive, ask yourself a few questions: Do you like the environment? Does this person feel easy to talk to? Do you feel comfortable around this person? Can you imagine revealing some of your most painful feelings to this person? All of these questions can help bring clarity to what you’re feeling.

8. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

It can be a little daunting the first time you step into a therapist’s office, especially when you expect your therapist to be the one asking you all of the thought-provoking questions. But, remember: this is your health, and you get to call the shots. Make sure you ask questions–what is the therapist’s approach? Psychotherapy? Cognitive behavioral therapy? Does your therapist use faith-based methods to supplement her practice? No question is too trivial, silly, or small to ask your potential therapist.

9. Make sure your therapist is licensed.

Last but not least, make sure your therapist is licensed by the state you live in. Becoming a licensed therapist is a strenuous process that involves a lot of schooling, clinical hours, and exams. So, although that man on the corner of the sidewalk giving out advice may have some interesting stuff to say, he’s probably not the best option for helping you get to your best self.

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Mother And Teen Daughter Endured Ten Years Of Separation, A Dramatic Border, And A Covid Hospitalization To Be Together

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Mother And Teen Daughter Endured Ten Years Of Separation, A Dramatic Border, And A Covid Hospitalization To Be Together

Separated from her mother for a decade, seventeen-year-old Cindy (who is only being identified by her first name) took a chance last month to see her. Despite her age, a raging pandemic, and the risks of crossing the Mexico–United States border she journeyed from Honduras to see her mother in New York. Her love for her mother was so deep, she was willing to risk everything.

In her mission, Cindy wound up in U.S. immigration facilities where she contracted Covid-19. After three days in a hospital bed in California, Cindy was finally able to contact her mother who had not learned of her daughter’s hospitalization.

Thanks to the help of a doctor who lent her their phone Cindy was able to make the call to her mother, Maria Ana.

“There are backlogs and delays in communication that are really unacceptable,” Maria Ana’s immigration lawyer Kate Goldfinch, who is also the president of the nonprofit Vecina, explained to NBC.

After learning about her daughter’s COVID-19 hospitalization, Maria Ana feared the worst. “Following weeks of anguish and uncertainty, Maria Ana spent most of her nights painting the bedroom she has fixed for Cindy, just ‘waiting for my girl,'” she explained to NBC.

Last Wednesday night, Maria Ana flew to San Diego to be with her daughter after she’d finally recovered from Covid.

At the emotional mother-daughter reunion, Maria Ana assured her daughter “no one else is going to hurt you.”

After Cindy crossed the border, she spent several days in a detention facility in Texas in the custody of Customs and Border Protection. According to NBC “On any given night, Cindy said, she would share two mattresses with about eight other girls. She could shower only every five days in one of the eight showers the facility had to serve 700 girls.”

“It was really bad,” Cindy told the outlet..

Cindy was among almost 13,350 unaccompanied children left in the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement at HHS. This last year has seen over 3,715 unaccompanied children at these facilities diagnosed with Covid-19. Worse, there are currently 528 unaccompanied children who have tested positive for Covid-19 and put in medical isolation.

Now, immigration advocates and families are pressing the U.S. government to pick up reunions of children and their families in the United States. Over 80 percent of unaccompanied minors currently in federal custody have family living in the states. According to Goldfinch, “40 percent have parents in the U.S.”

“So we would think that it would be fairly quick and simple to release a child to their own parent. But because of the chaos of the system, the reunification of these kids with their parents is really frustrating and backlogged,” Goldfinch explained, “most frustrating, of course, for the actual children and their parents.”

While Cindy was in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, no one managed to notify Ana Maria that her daughter was in the hospital according to Goldfinch

“I don’t know why my daughter has to be suffering this way, because it’s not fair. It’s something very sad for me,” Maria Ana explained to NBC

“I’ve already been through a lot,” Cindy went onto share. “But I hope it’s all worth it.”

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Women Are Sharing Their Most Brutal Pregnancy Symptoms

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Women Are Sharing Their Most Brutal Pregnancy Symptoms

Pregnancy really does require a strong stomach.

Women in their first trimester of pregnancy experience extreme hormonal changes that can lead to some pretty bizarre symptoms. From extreme cravings, even for non-food items such as pica, to a heightened sense of smell, it often seems like a pregnant woman could be experiencing an actual possession.

Women on Reddit are sharing the most bizarre symptoms they wish people had given them a heads up about before they got pregnant.

Check them out below!

“Nosebleeds. Not currently pregnant, but when I was, I got nosebleeds every few days during the first and second trimesters.”- creativeandwonderful

“From my mom: I paralyzed her from the waist down for a few hours because I decided to take a nap on her spinal cord in the third trimester. The doctor’s response was ‘yeah you’ll be able to move again once they wake up.’ Pregnancy is pure body horror.”- AbsolXGuardian

That is awful. I’m glad it wasn’t permanent. I knew a mom of twins who had one of them move and dislocated some of her ribs. Just…holy cow. It’s scary to think about all the damage that tiny little being can do while inside you, not to mention when coming out. Then many years of them beating you up and wearing your body down. Thank goodness for those hormones that help you believe it’s all worth it.”- TCMueller

“This is mostly a 3rd trimester thing, but that when you are active and moving, it kinda rocks the baby to sleep.

But as soon as you lay down to go to sleep, baby wakes up and starts kicking and spinning.

Might not be super common (?), but I knew a lot of other mothers who complained about this, too.”- GingerMau

“Not a woman, but i wish i knew the warning signs of preeclampsia, Girlfriend was 7 months pregnant at the time, and had been complaining of generally not feeling good with a constant headache that would occasionally break for a bit, i came home from work(i work overnights) to her sleeping on the floor and i eventually got to bed but i woke up 3 hours later to hear a thud and she was having a seizure, turns out she went eclamptic, she ended up having a c section, daughter was in the nicu for a bit but both are doing great now. What really put things into how close my girlfriend was to dying was the doctors and nurses saying how few people they’ve seen go eclamptic and one of the nurses said shes only seen 3 cases in like 10 years and 2 of them died.”- LeButtSmasher

“How hungry you can be. All. The. Time. Especially twins.

Then how hungry you still are after baby comes.

Then his hungry you are while breast feeding.

And sometimes the weight doesnt go away. At least the kids dont care.”- kleigh1313

“I wish someone would have warned me about the constipation. Corollary: I wish someone would have warned me that ‘fiber supplement’ does not equal ‘stool softener.’ Today, we’re at 26 weeks gestation.”- InfernalWedgie

“Related– I did have a couple of friends warn me about constipation, but no one told me I would be as thirsty as I have been! I get constipated after any day where I didn’t drink a huge glass of water every single time I felt thirsty… but I’ve been constantly insanely thirsty since probably month 2. I’m drinking something like 8-10 12 oz glasses of water a day. And no, turns out it isn’t gestational diabetes… just pregnancy.

And lol, agreed on the fiber supplement– I’d say it was more of a gas multiplier than helpful. Real food fiber did better on that front (oatmeal, pears, prunes, sweet-potatoes. heck, even beans were better than the fiber supplement for me).”- badgersonice

“Your body produces a hormone called relaxin that helps loosen your pelvis in preparation for birth. Some women get waayyy too much too soon and it loosens everything to the point you lose mobility and every day all day is painful. Also your body pushes so hard during birth you can feel yourself shit your own asshole out.”- Jen_Itals

“During labor the “water breaking” is not one rush of liquid. it’s continuous and can occur for several hours. it’s horrendous and messy and incredibly awful to deal with. it feels like peeing but you have zero control over anything and if you tense up then everything is much more painful and weird feeling.

nobody ever told me that and i was VERY surprised to find out for myself.”-notgrass87

“YUP. Went to the hospital at 4CM, water broke the second I got into triage. Water continued to POUR out with every contraction until I laid down. An hour later, they decide to take me to L&D, I stand up, bam pouring buckets. Get to L&D, another big contraction and water pours out of me all over my poor nurses shoes. My god, I did not know my body could have that much liquid in it. It was insane. I was so embarrassed and kept saying sorry lol.”- The-Chonky-one

“To quote a doctor friend of mine: People don’t realize that it’s the worst day of their life for them, but for me it’s Tuesday. Stop worrying about embarrassing yourself.”- Klaus_Goldfish

“I had adult diapers given to me by my SIL (she had some unused ones left from her pregnancies). They are INCREDIBLY useful for if your water breaks, and after you give birth and there is blood, so much blood.”- CypripediumGuttatum

“I didn’t measure, but I’ve heard people describe it as 9 months of periods saved up and thought that was pretty accurate. I was more concerned by my 2nd degree tearing to be worried about the blood. They said if there were “clots” that was what to look out for (so if your placenta hadn’t all come out and could potentially rot inside you basically). There is no glamor and not much dignity in giving birth and the recovery. Good thing the babies are cute! 10/10 happy I did it once and would never do it again, props to the ladies that go for round 2+.”- CypripediumGuttatum

“Hair loss! After I had my kid I lost a ton of hair. I would pull fists full of hair during my showers. I thought there was something wrong with me because no one told me about this. Went to Google, totally normal and it happens to everyone. It grows back eventually and you’ll go through an awkward baby hair phase.”- sm1020

“Aahh something I actually know the science behind! So apparently when you’re pregnant, your head holds on to almost all of those dead hairs that your scalp would normally just get rid of everyday. We all lose some hair, but most of the time we don’t realize how much we lose, especially if you’re blessed with thick hair. So when you’re pregnant and your body is worrying about keeping baby safe and growing, it basically stops shedding dead hair, and then sheds it ALL AT ONCE right after baby is born. So you’re not actually losing more hair than normal, you’re just losing all of those dead hairs that you would have lost anyway over the course of your pregnancy. It takes some time to see that your hair is back to normal because your head is now growing all of those hairs back at once, but when all is said and done your hair isn’t any thinner than it was before baby! My hair stylist told me this when I started freaking out about my pregnancy and body changes. She saved a panic attack that day.”- aep17

“Tore up from the floor up” lololol. I’m 5 weeks postpartum and had my OB take a look today for any remaining stitches from my second degree tear. I tore alllll the way and I swore I could still feel some. She said that they were all gone, but then I went home and found a whole ass suture on my toilet paper. Took my first look down there and it looks like I was stitched up by Frankenstein. My taint straight up has a seam now.”- edgeofdoom

“My god, the pooping. I now I have a three month old, and while I can’t remember my first poop after delivery, I vividly remember crying on the toilet not being able to poop. And nobody warns you about the hemorrhoids. Mine were so big I couldn’t sit for two weeks, and poops came out in little nuggets. Sometimes I actually had to scoop it out. Going to the bathroom became an event. My husband said the sounds I made trying to poop were worse than what I did during labor.”- toot_toot_tootsie

“I had a total meltdown in the hospital because my entire extended family was on the phone with my mom asking to come over to visit. “They just want to see you because they love you!” Um, no they want to see a cute new baby while I’m still bleeding heavily and have to use a squirt bottle after I pee, so… no.”- killergiraffe

“This times 1,000. Mine was fine, but I follow a woman on Instagram who lost her daughter full term because the doctor didn’t induce. She had signs of cholestasis and wasn’t diagnosed for awhile, then went to the hospital for lessening movements, failed a NST and then HE SENT HER HOME.

Every time I read her story I am angry on her behalf. I know she’s said she felt uneasy, and the way doctors dismiss our concerns in general let alone while pregnant, I imagine she ignored her feelings because she trusted the doctor and didn’t want to be pushy. I’m a loud mouthed person and I still failed to assert my needs during my last pregnancy. I’m pro-medicine but people need to understand that there is a valid reason that people mistrust doctors. Please anybody reading this – advocate for yourself!!! Trust in modern medicine but if your instincts are telling you something is wrong, trust them.”- thatcondowasmylife

“L&D nurse here, and I just wanna say that while you can pass blood clots as big as a tennis ball, it’s not “normal.” We tell our patients if they pass blood clots bigger than an egg, they need to let their nurse or OB doctor know! Big clots like that can cause a patient to have a hemorrhage, and patients don’t realize this, but you can hemorrhage up to like 6 weeks postpartum! Also, if you’re bleeding heavily enough to have to change your pad hourly or more, please call your doctor. Your nurse will probably do a fundal massage a million times before you get discharged, and I always encourage my patients to learn how to do it because it helps ensure the uterus is doing what it should do!”- little_ginger1216

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