Blog Post

The Silent Obstacle: Addressing the Black Mental Health Professional Shortage

By Dr. Christina Abby, Bradley Mallett, Inyang Udo-Ema, and Christopher Trotman

Name one silent obstacle to mental health equity and access to the black community that isn’t stigma or trauma.

If you guessed the mental health workforce shortage, you’re only half right. It’s the disturbing lack of Black mental health professionals: psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors alike.

The reality is clear, the mental health industry isn’t doing enough to support the Black community given that:

So how can we expect to change the tides when only two percent of psychiatrists and five percent of America’s psychology workforce are Black?

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Don’t get us wrong, we know Americans from all walks of life are struggling, but we can’t sweep the pain and anguish of the Black community under the rug. It’s not enough to increase access to services either – they need to feel heard and seen by licensed professionals who look like them, too. Seeing a therapist who understands your own lived experiences comes with a host of benefits including feeling more connected, comfortable opening up, and more likely to follow treatment plans.

So you know where we’re coming from, the four of us are clinically trained Black mental health professionals supporting various functions at evolvedMD:

  • Delivering life-changing mental health services onsite at primary care practices we serve (Christopher; Behavioral Health Manager).
  • Providing clinical supervision, mentorship, and training to our therapists (Bradley and Inyang; Clinical Managers).
  • Developing clinical and educational curricula, facilitating program implementations, and training new clinicians on our unique collaborative care model (Christina; Clinical Programs Manager).

Altogether, we’re seeing more People of Color leveraging our unique services and understand wholeheartedly the barriers they’ve overcome to seek and receive treatment. We’re thrilled to support their journeys to better health and well-being, but as we expand nationwide into other states, recruitment and retention of Black mental health professionals remains a challenge we’re committed to solving.

We echo Amanda J. Calhoun’s suggestions in her eye-opening piece on Slate. Investing in workforce pipeline programs like the America Psychiatrist Association’s or White Coats Black Doctors Foundation’s is a great starting point. Funding and advertising more of these programs will certainly support recruiting, but there’s another problem: therapists of color are leaving the profession in droves.

Between balancing personal needs with the unmet needs of their communities, navigating toxic work environments, and burnout, we don’t blame them. Black mental health professionals can’t deliver exceptional care if companies refuse to care about them and their lived experiences.

This is another way evolvedMD is a gamechanger. We weave our core value of “Everyone” into the employee experience from recruitment to development to retention. Success means:

  • Prioritizing a values-driven, people-centric culture.
  • Fortifying the health and well-being of our employees, including our therapists.
  • Support our people personally and professionally with clinical supervision to achieve licensure, free CEU opportunities.
  • Limiting their caseloads and offloading administrative burden to in-house Care Coordinators.
  • Giving them space and time to practice self-care during the workday.

Add it all up and we have a happy, healthy, and diverse workforce that delivers exceptional care to everyone who walks through their door.

We mean it, we’re proud of it, and if you’re a mental health professional of color, we want to share it with you.


Want to feel heard, supported, and represented?
Join evolvedMD – we’re hiring therapists like you
to meet your community’s unmet needs.

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