Difficulty Connecting with a Therapist, Particularly for Black Men

Olga Khazan shares for The Atlantic, "Even for those with insurance, getting mental healthcare means fighting through phone tag, payment confusion, and even outright discrimination."

Start reading below. See Olga's full piece in The Atlantic here.


"Last year, Decker Ngongang realized he needed to find a good therapist to help him with a lot of little stresses that were piling up.

'I grew up in a single-parent household,' he said. 'A lot of the things I wanted to talk about were just childhood-related, but also the stress of being a black man in America.'

He figured it would be similar to getting someone to take a look at a knee injury. Ngongang has good insurance through his work as a consultant for NGOs in Washington. So he opened up his insurance company’s website, typed in “psychologists,” and started calling.

And calling. And calling.

Some of the therapists said they weren’t taking new patients. In some cases, he left a message and never heard back. One said Ngongang would have to wait months for an appointment. In all, he estimates he contacted more than 25 therapists.

As with any individual’s situation, it’s impossible to know exactly why Ngongang found himself stuck without an appointment. Between 30 and 50 percent of psychologists run their own practices, which allows them to largely control their own schedules, client rosters, and insurance networks. About 30 percent appear to accept no insurance at all, according to the American Psychological Association, a trade group for psychologists.

But a new study suggests there might be another problem at play when low-income and black people attempt to schedule psychotherapy appointments: They never make it past the first voicemail. The study, published in the June issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, suggests psychotherapists are more likely to offer appointments to middle-class white people than to middle-class African-Americans or to working-class people of any race..."

Read more in Olga's piece in The Atlantic here.