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Erasing the stigma of mental health in the African American community

Psychotherapist Gail Bibb, co-owner of Revive Counseling, works to get rid of the stigma of seeking help.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mental illness doesn’t choose who is affected by it, but culture, race and gender can affect access to treatment, support and quality of care. 

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five people experience a mental health condition. 

Louisville psychotherapist Gail Bibb is the co-owner of Revive Counseling, which offers mental health therapy as well as life, nutrition and wellness coaching. 

Bibb also works to get rid of the stigma of seeking help.

“Anytime that anybody has a big change in their moods, it's an indicator that something's wrong,” she said.

Bibb explained if you're excessively worrying, have extreme mood changes, avoid social interactions, have difficulty connecting in social situations or have thoughts of suicide, you may need a mental health checkup.

RELATED: How to check in on your child's mental health before they return to school

She says she uses a holistic approach -- which includes people's mental, emotional and psychological states -- when treating her patients.

She explained how major life changes, or maybe something in your past unresolved can resurface, and how "triggers are just unhealed wounds from your past."

"And so anything in the environment can trigger it: a smell, somebody's personality, something that someone can say to you can trigger an emotional response,” she said.

Bibb also explained why so many African Americans are apprehensive about seeking help, saying "there's been a mistrust with getting services, getting adequate care that you need."  

Bibb says she believes so many people within the Black community turn towards faith rather than medical assistance because it's been "the outlet that we have had with no stigma."

“It's always been something that we could go kind of cry with no shame, shout, right, and really have emotional expression that wasn't demonized in our community," she said.

She tells her clients of faith that it's okay to seek medical help. She says while prayer is a weapon, therapy is a strategy.

"We need both to be the very best versions of ourselves," she said.

If you need immediate help call the suicide hotline at 988.

RELATED: 'Our big concern is the placement': Mental health care center stalls in La Grange

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