When she isn’t starring in blockbuster superhero films or covering glossy magazines, Laura Harrier is a “big advocate” for de-stigmatizing therapy and mental healthcare in Black communities.
In her recent interview with Cosmopolitan, the Spider-Man: Homecoming star opened up about her personal mental health journey. The 32-year-old model-turned-actress said she struggles with “anxiety and panic attacks,” and therapy has taught her how to cope with her symptoms.
“I’ve learned tools through therapy,” she told the magazine. “I really am a big advocate for therapy and for mental health care, especially in the Black community. That’s something that’s really improved my life and really helped me in significant ways.”
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When asked about lingering stigmas in the Black community around therapy or mental health interventions, Harrier was candid: “There’s been such a long history of ignoring mental health problems, of saying, ‘Oh, just suck it up’ or ‘I’m a strong Black woman. That doesn’t happen to me.’ All of these tropes that we’ve been taught over generations, when actually, I think given generational trauma, of course there are a lot of mental health issues within the Black community.”
Harrier isn’t the only Black celebrity to speak out about how therapy has helped her. Fellow actresses Gabrielle Union, Halle Berry, and Taraji P. Henson all share her sentiments.
Their anecdotal observations are backed up by research, too. One 2014 study found that although many Black Americans expressed positive feelings about therapy, they were less likely to seek professional mental healthcare than white people. Researchers also noted that participants were “very concerned about stigma associated with mental illness” and would often turn to religion to cope with symptoms privately.
This phenomenon is likely exacerbated by structural barriers to accessing healthcare, which disproportionately impact communities of color. Additionally, many people of color struggle to find therapists who share their racial identity, which can be a significant deterrent. Popular resources like the Black Therapist List and Therapy for Black Girls were created to combat this very issue.
“I definitely believe that mental health care should be prioritized just as much as physical health,” Harrier added.
Before you go, check out our favorite mental health apps we recommend for extra TLC for your mind and body:
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