South Bay agency works to connect people of color to mental health resources

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Friday, February 4, 2022
Agency works to connect people of color to mental health resources
African American Community Service Agency, based in San Jose, connects communities of color with mental health information and resources.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- This Black History Month, ABC7 is highlighting people and organizations working to Build a Better Bay Area. In the South Bay, one group is working hard to address mental health.

Though the topic has slowly become less taboo in general, stigma around it still exists, particularly in communities of color.

RELATED: Asian, Latinx and Black people have trouble finding therapists who look like them in the Bay Area

"We've been ostracized in a number of ways, we are not welcomed into a lot of spaces where a dominant culture abides," said Dr. Glenna Anderson, an African-American mental health therapist. "And so when we think of it like that, and this is my one personal theory, we don't necessarily want to do things that are going to further ostracize us."

Dr. Glenna, as she is known, also says that a lot of it may have to do with what have become cultural norms.

"'What happens in my house stays in my house' and so there's a certain level of privacy that people like to maintain and a certain level of pride that people have in not wanting to share, what we could consider, our dirty laundry with who we would consider a stranger," Dr. Glenna said.

The Silicon Valley-based African American Community Service Agency is working to break stigma.

"We're making it known that therapy, as Dr. Glenna would say, is a lifestyle. And it's supposed to be a part of your lifestyle," said Milan Balinton, the agency's executive director.

TAKE ACTION: Get help with mental health issues

Balinton worked with Dr. Glenna to help communities of color make that happen.

"Black people, brown people, people of color needed to talk to somebody because of the increase in suicide rates. Just what was happening during the pandemic," he said, "So speaking to Dr. Glenna who was also a San Jose State alum as well as (myself), I saw that she had the ability and skillset to reach people in a particular way, which became our Monday meetings."

Those Monday meetings are free therapy-based wellness sessions, open to all. They've been happening virtually every other week since October.

"These are our 30 minute wellness, informational workshops on just various topics," Dr. Glenna said "Very practical topics, with practical information, practical steps, nothing that is too deep."

Faces aren't shown in the sessions and people can chat or email Dr. Glenna questions directly.

RELATED: CA signs bills allowing students access to mental health education, support at schools

Slowly but surely, Dr. Glenna and Balinton say the stigma is lessening.

To those considering therapy, but feeling unsure, Dr. Glenna says this:

"If you are thinking, 'Maybe I should sit down and talk to someone', you should sit down and talk to someone."

One thing both Dr. Glenna and Balinton say keeps many from seeking out therapy is the fear of the cost, but there are options.

Dr. Glenna has a breakdown of the help available on her website, which you can find here.

To find out more about the free 30 minute wellness sessions and the African American Community Service Agency, click here.

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