Push for more African-Americans to be open about seeking treatment for mental health

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Dr. Tobias LaGrone is a psychotherapist and pastor of Soul House Christian Fellowship in Greensboro.

“We deal with the mind, body, soul and spirit,” LaGrone said.

He believes African-Americans should embrace therapy instead of relying solely on faith.

“The church has been an anchor for our soul yet we have also, to some degree, made it a panacea for all problems,” LaGrone said.

According to a recent study, black people are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems.

They are less likely to close the Bible and open up to a professional.

“It’s OK to have a therapist. You can have a good mechanic, a good barber, a good beautician and a good therapist,” LaGrone said.

Phillip Lawson is that “good barber.”

“We kind of have this stigma that you don’t talk about what you’re going through because it’s going to make people look down on you or think less of you,” Lawson said.

Lawson has a college degree in psychology and clippers in his hands at Heads Up in Greensboro.

“I use my degree a lot more than you would think,” Lawson said.

Phill says barbershops are like the church, a place black people feel safe to share.

“It’s very evident that sometimes people just come in here and need to get stuff off their chest,” Lawson said.

He’s always game to help, but he feels therapy is the best way for his people to overcome.

“I think if people became more open to it, a lot of things we deal with as a community will come to a resolve. It won’t end all at once but at least people will be open to the idea,” Lawson said.

“It’s important for people to understand that a therapeutic relationship is just that. It’s a relationship,” said Dr. Noel Bost, owner of Amethyst Consultant and Treatment Solutions.

Bost wants black people to feel comfortable seeking help by reaching out.

“Meet people where they are. For us, that means provide services within the community,” Bost said.

Amethyst is hosting a grand opening and informational on Sept. 6 at 11 a.m.

It’s located at 2706 Saint Jude St. in Greensboro.

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