Other organizations go further and help patients make treatment appointments. The nonprofit Black Men Heal, for example, offers up to eight free online counseling sessions. About 70% of clients choose to pay for additional sessions, said executive director Tasnim Sulaiman, a psychotherapist in private practice in the Philadelphia area who founded the organization in 2018.
It can be difficult for people of color to find a therapist with a common cultural background. According to the Census Bureau, about 18% of people in the United States identify as Hispanic and 13% as black, but a report by the American Psychological Association found that only 5% of psychologists are Hispanic and 4% are black – 86% are white. A similar disparity exists among social workers and psychiatrists across the country.
Eric Coly, who previously worked in finance, founded Ayana Therapy in 2020, about eight years after he hit “rock bottom” while dealing with anxiety and depression.
At the time, he struggled to find a therapist who could understand the intersection of his different identities as a black man and immigrant from Senegal who lived in different parts of the world.
“This product was almost meant to cure my old self,” he said.
Ayana, which means ‘mirror’ in Bengali, asks users to fill out a questionnaire intended to capture “your many nuances,” Coly said, then connects you with a culturally competent therapist. The cost for each online session is currently $ 60.
Suppliers are vetted through a process that includes two interviews and reference checks.
While Ayana has been created for a multitude of races and cultures, as well as for those who identify as LGBTQ, some websites cater to a more specialized set of users like LatinxTherapy, Therapy for Black Girls, Therapy for Black Men, the Asian Mental Health Collective, and the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network. Melanin and Mental Health offers a directory of color therapists, many of whom are in Houston. The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective, a nonprofit wellness organization that trains people to respond to mental health crises, has an online directory with a variety of Black practitioners including therapists, instructors of yoga, doulas and mediators.
Employers are also beginning to recognize the need for culturally competent providers. The companies Indeed, Thumbtack and Critical Mass, part of the Omnicom group, recently partnered with Therify, which uses artificial intelligence technology to connect employees with suppliers in their state. Half of Therify’s roughly 300 online therapists are people of color and 20% specialize in serving clients who identify as LGBTQ, said company chief executive James Edward Murray, who interviews each provider.