Nationally Ben Roberts, LPC-MHSP, and his wife, Dr. Erica Roberts, EdD, own Purposed Life, LLC in Gallatin, Tennessee. They treat the mental, emotional, and social health of Black individuals and organizations using innovative, evidence-based, and culturally relevant methods.
Originally launched as Purposed Life Counseling in 2017, this practice aims to serve young Black adults with anxiety and depression. Five years later, the company has expanded into clinical practice, consulting, and training. The practice’s ever-growing team of clinicians is passionate about helping Black Americans find meaning and purpose in life.
Black adults are 20% more likely than others to experience mental health issues, especially depression and anxiety. Lack of access to appropriate and culturally responsive mental health care, combined with racism, prejudice, and historical trauma, leaves many Black people without adequate care and help. Systematic barriers affect Black mental health and treatments.
Lack of access, stigma, and maltreatment is why African Americans use mental health services less than other groups. Dr. Erica Roberts says systemic racism extends to healthcare. Access, understanding cultural trauma, and culturally-competent providers can help remove barriers.
In 2018, 11.5% of Black adults in the U.S. lacked health insurance, and only one in three who need mental health care receives it. They are also less likely to receive consistent care and more likely to use emergency rooms or primary care instead of mental health specialists or psychologists, which can lead to misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment.
Social determinants of health help identify Black health disparities. Economic stability, education, neighborhood, health care access, and community context are included. Dr. Erica says a lack in one or more of these areas can affect health literacy and access to healthy food. These conditions contribute to African Americans’ higher rates of heart disease and diabetes. They’re harder to treat because of inequalities in one of five domains.
Dr. Erica Roberts published her doctoral research on at-risk young adults’ emotional intelligence, leadership, and mentoring in 2020. Her findings suggest that social-emotional development can benefit both clients and staff in re-entry, workforce development, and related social sectors. “Culture affects mental health.” Years ago, we may have pictured a straight jacket or a dark sofa when we thought of mental health. These images are accurate, but they don’t tell the whole story when discussing or treating mental health. Many cultures shame or stigmatize mental health issues, especially trauma. Current conversations are more welcoming and educating, she says.
Purposed Life tackles all these issues. Its culturally relevant practice, modern and innovative approach, and emphasis on social-emotional development will help young Black adults with anxiety and depression and remove stigma, socioeconomic disparities, provider bias, and inequality of care.