Mental health issues within the African American community are very touchy. You don't hear many African Americans say they are struggling from depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation. It's just not something associated with black people, it’s not what we talk about. I’ve been in situations where I could have benefited from therapy and thought to myself “no one will understand my problems, these are black problems”.
When we do talk about these issues, it's easier to talk to someone else that is African American. To put it simply: black people want to talk to other black people about what's bothering them. I would say it's the same for other races, but I've never been anything but black so I can't say. For African Americans it’s tough to open up to other races about issues, because in the country we are treated as second class citizens. No one wants to hear about second class problems.
Every African American male that I talk to has said that it's easier to talk to an African American woman. I agree as I have been seeing two different African American female therapists for the past two years. Talking to a black woman about my issues allows me to open up more which leads to a proper diagnosis for my issues. There is something about talking to an African American female that is soothing. You just feel like there is no judgement and everything is going to be ok.
In no way am I saying that Caucasian therapists cannot give me the care I need. However I'd be lying if I didn't say there are some things that are considered "black issues". With these black issues, we feel comfortable talking to black people about them. Don't worry, I will give you reasons why.
The first being the freedom to talk how we want to. Everyone has to be "fake" in some capacity, but when it comes to resolving mental health issues there is only room to be real. I don't think everyone would understand if I said my stupid ass lil head ass donkey ass boss is getting on my last dam nerve. That's how I feel about the issue, and I need someone to understand what I'm saying. Someone who understands how we talk around family and friends. I want to have that type of relationship with my therapist.
The second being black therapist have the same black problems we have. They understand and can give us expert recommendations. Something that is big in the news is black people not being able to have dreadlocks at work and at school. Imagine the damage that does: not being accepted for the way your hair. It's history behind dreadlocks...black history. We need to talk to a black therapist about this issue.
If you are suffering from mental health illness, I would not recommend holding out to speak to someone black if none are immediately available. You should be as transparent as possible with your mental health needs though. Not all black people want to talk to other black people about their problems. That is ok also. Get the help you need.