Meet Ben Roberts, LPC-MHSP, and his wife, Dr. Erica Roberts, EdD, the owners of Purposed Life, LLC, a Black-owned clinical practice in Gallatin, Tenn., that addresses the mental, emotional and social health of individuals and organizations in the Black community through innovative, evidence-based and culturally relevant methods.
Originally launched as Purposed Life Counseling back in 2017, the goal of this practice was to create a culturally relevant and innovative boutique practice with an emphasis on serving young adults in the Black community who are dealing with anxiety and depression. Five years later, the company has grown to include clinical practice with expanded service areas as well as new business services: consulting and training. Their ever-growing team of clinicians is passionate about helping Black Americans find their meaning and true purpose in life, which has been the original mission of the practice since the very beginning.
Research shows that Black adults are 20 percent more likely to experience mental health issues than the rest of the population, especially when it comes to depression and anxiety. But, the lack of access to appropriate and culturally responsive mental health care combined with prejudice, racism and historical trauma experienced by Black individuals leaves many of them without adequate care and necessary help. This makes it evident that systematic barriers majorly impact mental health and treatments in the Black community.
“Lack of access, stigma and a history of maltreatment are the top reasons that influence why African Americans utilize mental health services less than other groups. Systemic racism is not only about civil rights, but extends itself to the healthcare system,” says Dr. Erica Roberts.
“To address this problem, addressing social determinants of health such as access, understanding cultural trauma and culturally-competent providers can help remove these barriers.”
In 2018, 11.5 percent of Black adults in the United States had no form of health insurance, and research suggests that only one in three Black adults who need mental health care actually receive it. They are also less frequently included in mental health research, 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 easily result in misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment.
“Social determinants of health help us identify disparities in the Black community. The term refers to five domains: economic stability, education, neighborhood, health care access and community context. When there’s a lack in one or more of these areas, it can cause disparities in everything from health literacy to access to healthy food,” says Dr. Erica.
“These conditions add to higher rates of chronic health conditions like heart disease or diabetes in African Americans. They are harder to treat because of the lack or inequalities in one of the five domains listed.”
In 2020, Dr. Erica Roberts published her doctoral research that examined the impact of emotional intelligence training, leadership training and mentoring on at-risk young adults. Her findings suggest that implementation and an emphasis on social-emotional development can substantially benefit both clients and staff within the re-entry, workforce development and related social sectors.
“Culture plays a huge part in mental health. Years ago, when we thought of mental health, we may have envisioned a straight jacket or a long sofa in a dark office. Though there is some truth to these images, this is not the whole picture when discussing or treating mental health. Many cultures see stigma or attach shame to addressing mental health concerns, especially when discussing trauma. However, current conversations are more welcoming, providing awareness and education,” she says.
Purposed Life is addressing all of these issues from all possible angles. Its culturally relevant practice with a modern and innovative approach and a strong emphasis on finding purpose through social-emotional development is set to serve young Black adults dealing with anxiety and depression and remove the stigma, socioeconomic disparities, provider bias and inequality of care surrounding mental health issues.
For more information about Purposed Life, LLC, please visit APurposedLife.com
This article first appeared on Blacknews.com.