Written by Samantha Kendall, LGMFT.
Mental illness rates are rising for those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Our views of health and wellness have shifted as we’ve witnessed the COVID pandemic, economic downturns, and national instances/footage/displays of racism and human injustice. Marginalization due to racism, xenophobia, and homophobia can have significant effects on relationship satisfaction of BIPOC couples. Examples of systemic and structural racism can be seen in daily life or witnessed in the media.
Research has shown that racism changes the way our brains respond to threats – in the same way that other traumatic events do. This can live out as an increase in hypervigilance or being hyper-aware of your surroundings. In addition, mental health can be greatly impacted by generational wealth disparities experienced by Black and Indigenous folks directly from racial oppression and the steep economic challenges faced by 1st and 2nd generation Americans as they establish their roots in this country. Financial issues or financial incompatibility can lead to an increased risk for depression or anxiety and impact couple relationships leading to divorce.
Bringing children into a relationship can create financial strain for any couple, however, BIPOC couples face additional challenges. Our maternity care system (healthcare and childcare) often fails to provide equitable, culturally centered, and safe care for mothers. This disproportionately impacts BIPOC families, as new mothers of color have postpartum depression rates almost twice as high as white new mothers. This can impact the prenatal and birthing experience for new parents, causing fear or unease during such a vulnerable time. BIPOC parents often have to rely on themselves or on private communities and resources to provide adequate healthcare and childcare for themselves and their children. There is a sense that the country isn’t built for BIPOC folks to build thriving families.
What if the answers we are looking for have been within us and our communities all along? One of the greatest strengths of BIPOC communities is our collectivism. Creating or leaning into BIPOC-tailored spaces can support our healing to remind us that we are not alone throughout this shared experience. By gaining insight and addressing the impacts of social and cultural injustices, we can acknowledge the radical healing that can take place. We owe it to ourselves to reclaim spaces for our betterment, growth, and healing. We can bravely confront and move through pain and challenges of oppression, while also utilizing cultural healing to reach our mental wellness goals.
By choosing to start BIPOC couples and family therapy, you will receive a multifaceted experience where we not only share our expertise on strengthening relationships, but also guide you through the BIPOC-specific financial, systemic, and cultural factors that shape your unique relational experience, We will create a safe and supportive space to understand how exactly these forces impact your behaviors, thoughts and interactions with your loved ones. The way we discuss mental health can impact our understanding and connection to the work. We will work together to explore your identities and experiences while also identifying your strengths to support you in cultivating a more fulfilling life and relationship. We seek to empower BIPOC couples to (re)build strong, healthy, and resilient relationships no matter the current life stage. Let’s get started today! Request, Samantha, Journey, or Christina to start your healing process.