You Don't Need Prayer; You Need a Therapist

Essence's Janelle Harris argues that religion alone won't cut it when it comes to African Americans and mental health. 

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Essence's Janelle Harris argues that religion alone won't cut it when it comes to African Americans and mental health.

I'm a firm believer in the power of prayer. I've seen not only the joy of receiving God's answer -- even if it didn't show up the way the person doing the praying thought it would or should -- but also the cathartic process of connecting with the Lord and hashing out the emotions that go along with those deep, sincere, pleading-for-a-change kind of invocations. I'm also a firm believer, however, in the anointed calling that God has placed on some people to be therapists, psychologists and licensed counselors to help heal others much like neurosurgeons and cardiologists do.

One out of every 20 adults experiences some form of depression in any given two-week period. Hypothetically, that means in your office, your sorority, even your congregation, at least one person is struggling right now with symptoms that may be too deeply rooted to just be prayed away. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the country, particularly for women in their 30s. To complicate the issue, as if it needed more complexity, somatization -- which, in the language of everyman, is physical ailment that crops up because of mental health problems -- shows up at a rate of 15 percent in our community compared to only 9 percent among White folks. There's a trickle down affect that proves what goes on in our heads has a direct impact on the rest of our bodies. Since we already have a higher rate of just about every disease under the sun, that makes our holistic health that much more serious.

Read Janelle Harris' entire piece at Essence.com.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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Writer and editor Janelle Harris resides in Washington, D.C., frequents Twitter and lives on Facebook.

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