Virtual mental wellness platforms for Black people, by Black people 

Back in January, the GWS predicted that technology would rewrite how mental health and wellness got delivered—with virtual therapy apps and innovative digital mental wellness platforms on the serious rise. The pandemic has kicked this space into overdrive: teletherapy adoption and solutions have skyrocketed, and CB Insights’ recent report on global wellness investment trends revealed that mental health-focused start-ups are the very hottest space, generating over $1 billion in funding in the first half of 2020.

Virtual therapy and mental wellness solutions have a unique ability to break down barriers to access for resources and practitioners, with on-demand, more affordable, and more anonymous support right from your devices. And no population suffers more long-entrenched obstacles in getting mental health services than the Black community. The stats could fill a book: Black people suffer stress and PTSD at much higher rates, they’ve suffered disturbing inequalities in mental health diagnoses and treatment, and mental health is a historically taboo subject in the Black community.

The mental wellness crisis in the Black community has been dramatically intensified and exposed in the last few months by the twin crises of the pandemic and our era of racial trauma and violence. The Black Lives Matter movement has been shining a light on this mental wellness crisis, and one of the most crucial trends emerging in wellness is a new world of digital apps and online platforms specifically designed to support the emotional wellbeing of people of color. Black activists and entrepreneurs are creating new virtual therapy solutions, matching Black therapists and mental wellness practitioners to Black people in need. An important development given how white the mental health space has been: In the US, for example, nearly 84% of psychologists are white and only 5% Black, meaning that even if you get help, that person may not understand where you are coming from.

There is SO much activity in the mental wellness for Black people, created by Black people, space. Platforms launched pre-pandemic are taking off, whether the Shine app, focused on meditation and online resources that help Black people “rest, heal and grow through difficulty,” or the Therapy for Black Girls site or Parenting for Liberation, virtual offerings to help Black families heal and thrive in a racist world.

Major launches are happening weekly for digital solutions aimed at helping Black people get mental support, heal and overcome the trauma of racism. The Ayana app will launch any day now, the first platform to connect people of color with therapists from their precise background—from sexual orientation to religion. Tech start-up Digital Park just launched the Drift-wellness + sleep app that delivers mindfulness, focus and sleep for Black people anytime and anywhere. Liberate, the first meditation app for the African diaspora, and Elevate, a mental wellness app for the Black community, just launched. Jill Scott-backed True Voice, a US wellness platform for women of color, is expected to go live soon, featuring the first national database of wellness professionals/practitioners of color—with a big focus on mental wellness.

The persistent gap in mental health and wellness resources for Black communities (the high cost, the lack of local access, the stigma, the dearth of practitioners that get their lives and culture) has meant generations of silent suffering. But this new wave of Black people-focused online therapy and mental wellbeing platforms is finally bringing this critical issue out of the closet and attacking the access gap—and it’s one of the most welcome, recent developments we've seen.

This is inspired by the“Mental Wellness and Technology: Rethinking the Relationship” trend in the 2020 Global Wellness Trends Report.

Summit Trend in the News

An Era of Peril for Black Mental HealthUS News & World Report

Analyzes the surging mental wellness crisis for Black Americans, who have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus and the economic downturn and who have lived through the trauma from the recent killings of George Floyd and Jacob Blake (and, of course, so many others). 
This App Connects Black People with Therapists of ColorCNN

Any day now, the Ayana app will launch, a new platform that matches people of color with licensed therapists of the same background—including race, ethnicity, gender, religion and sexual orientation. 
Quantasy + Associates Teams With Singer Jill Scott For Wellness PlatformMediaPost

Media agency, Quantasy + Associates, singer Jill Scott, and Live Nation Urban’s Shawn Gee have just announced True Voice, a wellness platform for women of color.
Think Meditation Could Help Cope with Microaggressions? There’s an App for ThatWashington Post

Liberate is the first meditation app for the African diaspora, featuring guided meditations and talks in the usual categories like sleep and mindfulness, but also offering meditations and expert content that confronts racism and microaggressions head-on, to help people of color look inward and gain clarity and power.
Can Online Therapy Help Narrow the Mental Health Treatment Gap in Africa?Devex
In most of Africa, there is a huge mental health treatment gap, stemming from the stigma around the issue and far too few qualified mental health professionals. Online therapy can be a powerful solution, as it can reach people on different devices and offers anonymity and a lack of bias. Enter Wazi, which lets people get the support they need, anywhere.
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