The care you deserve

Mental Health Issues Are Hard Enough. These Apps Make it Easier For Those in the Margins

We highlight some of the mental health apps and platforms that cater to specific marginalized communities.

For some, mental health issues are a part of everyday life. But now in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, we are seeing a surge in reports of mental health challenges across the country, as many experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more for the first time.

The collective trauma we’re experiencing due to COVID-19 and the subsequent quarantines is real and now, more than ever, we’re in need of ways to obtain help without having to actually leave our homes. This is especially true for those of us in the margins—people of color (POC) , LGBTQ+ and disabled communities, and others who face additional challenges in finding the right care.

While therapy has been a part of my life in some way or other for the past decade, it wasn’t until I found a therapist of similar background (in my case, Latina) that I began to feel a deeper connection to my care. That’s not to say that you can’t have a good relationship with a therapist who doesn’t share your background, but for many of us it can be a struggle to find someone who either “gets it” personally, or is at least open to understanding our unique needs.

In fact, studies show that POC and LGBTQ+ individuals respond favorably to receiving care from culturally relevant practitioners. Despite this, the psychology workforce remains predominantly white—which can make it especially hard for some of us to find the type of care and connection we long for. And with at least 36 percent of Americans reporting experiencing a serious impact on their mental health due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s even more important for those in the margins to find the help they need, virtually.

"The psychology workforce remains predominantly white—which can make it especially hard for some of us to find the type of care and connection we long for."

Fortunately, there are many out there doing the work to make sure our communities can find the support they need, something that’s especially crucial now. Ahead, we highlight some of the mental health apps and platforms that cater to specific marginalized communities, gaining insight on their unique offerings and the founders who created them.

The Safe Place

Developed in 2018, The Safe Place is a free app for the Black community created by Jasmin Pierre—a peer support specialist and advocate for mental health. The comprehensive app features a number of tools, from breathing techniques and meditations to Black mental health statistics. The app also offers self-care tips on coping with police brutality and advice on how to speak to family members about mental illness.

“[Mental health] has always been seen as taboo in my community,” says Pierre, whose own history with mental health includes living with anxiety and major depressive disorder. Pierre often heard people in her community suggest that “therapy was for white people,” and to turn to God with any problems. “That way of thinking stopped me from getting the help I needed for a long time,” she says.

“Racism, police brutality, gentrification, being discriminated against for jobs because of your hair texture, or the way your name sounds … plays a huge part in why the Black community's mental health issues can manifest differently,” adds Pierre.

Therapy for Black Girls

Therapy for Black Girls is another resource created with the Black community in mind. Started by Dr. Joy Bradford, a licensed psychologist located in Atlanta, Georgia, Therapy for Black Girls is both a mental health podcast as well a database of licensed Black mental health practitioners. Those interested can join the site and find virtual therapists as well as local therapists whom they can book for in-person appointments in the future.

Additionally, Dr. Joy has created an adjacent community called the Yellow Couch Collective, which offers additional support for Black women to connect to other members, attend Q&A sessions with podcast guests, and more.

Melanin and Mental Health

In a similar vein, Houston-based Melanin and Mental Health also serves as a database for finding therapists of color, this time focusing on both the Black and Latinx communities. Created by two therapists, Eliza Boquin and Eboni Harris, the database mostly features therapists in major cities like Houston, New York, Chicago, and others.

Boquin and Harris also host a mental health podcast called Between Sessions. The duo is currently focusing on episodes related to the pandemic, including ones about online counseling and supporting friends during these trying times.

Latinx Therapy

For the 60 million Latinxs in the US, there are also similar resources, including LatinxTherapy, created by Adriana Alejandre, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

The Burbank, California-based therapist says she began with a Facebook group upon realizing that there weren't many Latinx Therapists out there. She wanted to create the resource not just for those seeking therapy, but also because she felt isolated in her private practice. From there, she gathered as many Latinx clinicians as she could to create a directory, and launched a podcast by the same name.

“It was a combination of the need of professional support among Spanish-speaking therapists, and listening to the Latinx community’s needs that inspired me to push my vision to reality with the savings I earned from my therapy services,” says Alejandre. The platform now also includes resources for undocumented individuals seeking mental health services.

37-year-old Norma Rodriguez recalls finding a therapist through Latinx Therapy’s directory: “There was a layer of understanding that came with her having similar cultural experiences that I didn't have to dig into or explain,” Rodriguez tells Supermaker.

Therapy for Latinx

When web designer and social media consultant Brandie Carlos lost a friend to suicide in 2019, she felt compelled to find a way to address mental health issues in her community and created Therapy for Latinx. Inspired by Therapy for Black Girls, Carlos jumped on the opportunity to launch a similar platform, which is now roughly 400 providers strong.

While individuals are free to find a therapist on their own through the platform, it’s also possible to get “matched” with a provider by simply answering a few quick questions. Those who are new to therapy or short on time might opt for this in order to do away with some of the overwhelm that goes hand in hand with seeking and booking appointments with a therapist.

Asian Mental Health Collective

Asian Americans are also making strides in addressing the needs of their community, one great example of this is the Asian Mental Health Collective. Born out of the online community Subtle Asian Traits, founders recognized an opportunity to begin talking about mental health.

“We've had a variety of people who have been involved—a few of us are mental health professionals—but the vast majority are volunteers who are passionate about our goal to dismantle the stigma surrounding Asian mental health issues,” AMHC Team representatives say.

AMHC currently offers one-on-one listening sessions, Q&As with mental health professionals, and meetups in New York with more to come in Los Angeles and San Francisco. They also have a therapist directory. “We are working to extend our sphere of influence by building up a presence on other mediums through writing articles, creating videos, and starting mental health conversations on Instagram,” they say.

Pride Counseling

For those of us in the LGBTQ+ community, finding a therapist isn’t just about finding one who has lived our experience, but also one who is accepting and understanding, as well. The Pride Counseling app makes it easier than ever to find queer-friendly therapists in your area. Launched in 2016 by the same team behind the app BetterHelp, the app is made up of providers who are either part of the LGBTQ+ community or have substantial experience working with and being sensitive to the needs of our community.

"There was a layer of understanding that came with her having similar cultural experiences that I didn't have to dig into or explain."

Founder Alon Matas shares that the biggest challenge with Pride has been maintaining the same high level of quality of service as they continue to scale and grow. “Even with so many people who are using our service on a daily basis, we'd like to make sure we're doing our best to make sure every single person is getting the help they need,” says Matas.

National Deaf Therapy

When it comes to seeking a therapist as a deaf person, there are even more challenges. Resources like National Deaf Therapy (NDT), however, are working to better address the hurdles deaf people face in finding and receiving mental health help. This site features articles and videos to help deaf individuals with their mental health care as well as a form to fill out in order to find a therapist or counselor from which to receive regular treatment.

25-year-old Kellynette Gomez is a deaf queer Latina with a history of anxiety and depression who was able to find mental health support through NDT. “I often find it difficult to connect with therapists who do not have a background in deaf culture or understand my intersectional identity as a woman of color, deaf person, and part of the LGBTQ+ community,” says Gomez.

"I often find it difficult to connect with therapists who do not have a background in deaf culture or understand my intersectional identity as a woman of color, deaf person, and part of the LGBTQ+ community."

NDT is also home to NDT Connects, a community directory that features therapists and healers of all kinds in order to address mental health from a variety of angles. Individuals can find everything from massage therapists and doulas to reiki healers and beyond.

Deaf Counseling

Another mental health resource designed with the deaf community in mind is Deaf Counseling—a website matching up deaf-licensed therapists with deaf individuals across the country, both locally as well as via teletherapy. Deaf Counseling has been addressing the needs of the deaf community for over 15 years using American Sign Language.

“No matter what your identity is, it’s almost always helpful to have a therapist that can relate [to] or validate your experiences. In previous sessions with a hearing or white therapist, I found myself over-explaining my experiences or why I felt the way I felt,” says Gomez, who has also used this platform to get help.

Ayana

One of the newest resources out there to help those of us in the margins is a newer app still in pre-launch phase is Ayana. Created by Eric Coyl, this platform may be the most intersectional mental health app yet, matching individuals with therapists based on a number of criteria, including things like gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and even religion. While not yet available to the public, Ayana is already seeking individuals who would be interested in being privately matched with some of their therapists during their beta testing phase.

Getting the help you need

Dealing with mental health issues, especially in the midst of a pandemic, is challenging at best. And finding the care you need might feel even more daunting than ever. But thanks to platforms like these, it’s becoming easier than ever to find help from therapists and others who can relate to and understand our experiences.

If you find yourself struggling, due to the pandemic or anything else, don’t be afraid to reach out to mental health specialists and communities and get the support you need. You might end up surprised at how far an empathetic ear, good advice, and professional care from someone who gets it can actually go.

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and are in need of immediate support, you can call the NAMI HelpLine, 1-800-950-6264.

Priscilla Blossom is a freelance writer specializing in arts & culture, Latinx and queer identity, health & wellness, parenting, and travel. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Glamour, Oprah, Parents, Lonely Planet, Fodors, and more.

Getting the conversation started

What did you think about this article? How does it relate to you?

Join the convo on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.