I was known for always unsolicitedly nudging my friends to look for a therapist, but in 2018, I realized that a member of my tribe had real challenges finding one she liked (and she was not the only one to share this sentiment). It inspired me to develop a concept that addresses cost, stigma, and the health care system’s lack of cultural competency, which all hinder access to mental health services.
Finding a counselor one feels comfortable opening up to while of color, queer, or an intersection of both, is very difficult – and considerably more challenging for double or triple minorities.
I strongly believe that if finding a reflection of yourself in your counselor is what you demand in order to find a safe space, you should be ENTITLED to it. The overriding belief is that such providers are extremely rare or simply do not exist. They DO! They are simply hard to locate, hence seemingly inaccessible. Enter Ayana Therapy:
Enter AYANA therapy - a user-friendly app we are launching that enables matching marginalized communities with compatible licensed therapists based on their unique experiences and identities across race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and ability. It allows for flexible, convenient and anonymous online communication (text, call and video call) and addresses barriers to care such as transportation issues, busy schedules and mobility challenges that people may face.
I have suffered from very severe and debilitating issues of depression. Seldom in life are we ever presented with the fortune of working on something that is so intimately tied to a voice that wished it had the courage to be vulnerable sooner in hopes of normalizing mental health conversations. That rare type of alignment must be honored and that is what my team and I will strive do: de-stigmatizing, listening and providing safe space to every dismissed, neglected and ignored voice out there in the form of counseling and therapy.