Meet the couple, Ben Roberts, LPC-MHSP, and his wife, Dr. Erica Roberts, EdD, the owners of Purposed Life, LLC. The Black-owned clinical practice in Gallatin, Tennessee, addresses the mental, emotional, and social health of individuals and organizations in the Black community using innovative, evidence-based, and culturally relevant methods.
Originally launched in 2017 as Purposed Life Counseling, the goal of this practice was to create a culturally relevant and innovative boutique practice focused on serving young adults in the morning Black community dealing with anxiety and depression.
After five years, the company has developed to include clinical practice with expanded service areas, and new business services such as consulting and training. Their ever-expanding team of clinicians is dedicated to assisting Black Americans in discovering their true meaning and purpose in life, which has been the practice’s original mission since its start.
According to research, Black adults are 20% more likely than the general population to experience mental health problems, particularly depression and anxiety.
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However, a lack of access to appropriate and culturally responsive mental health care, combined with prejudice, racism, and historical trauma experienced by Black people, leaves many of them without adequate care and needed assistance. This shows that systematic barriers have a significant impact on mental health and treatment 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% of Black adults in the United States didn’t have health insurance, and research suggests that only one in every three Black adults who require mental health care receive it. They are also less likely to be included in mental health research and 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 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,” Dr. Erica explained. “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.”
Dr. Erica Roberts’ doctoral research on the impact of emotional intelligence training, leadership training, and mentoring on at-risk young adults was published in 2020. Her findings propose 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 said.
Purposed Life is addressing all of these issues from every angle possible. Its culturally relevant practice, with a modern and innovative approach and a strong emphasis on finding purpose through social-emotional development, is poised to serve young Black adults suffering from anxiety and depression, as well as to eliminate the stigma, socioeconomic disparities, provider bias, and disparities in care surrounding mental health issues.
Visit APurposedLife.com for more information about Purposed Life, LLC.