NewsChannel 21 discusses mental health with Bend counselor Tobiah Brown
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As we celebrate Black History Month, NewsChannel 21 is recognizing and honoring Black figures in our community who are making a difference in the lives of others.
NewsChannel 21 reporter Arielle Brumfield recently sat down with Bend counselor Tobiah Brown to discuss mental health in the Black community, and why it's important to prioritize care, if you're struggling.
Brown is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern with Juniper Ridge Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and Forever Family Therapy. She works with families and children all across the tri- county area, helping them process experiences that weigh heavily on them-- and for the Black community, it can be a plethora of experiences.
“But I do have to say for people of color, we are constantly engaged in struggle -- and I won’t say protests," Brown said. "I’ll say we are constantly engaged in trying to make progress.”
After a year like 2020 -- a year seemingly dedicated to dismantling struggles caused by racism and inequality -- Brown says seeking out support for your mental health should be a normalized priority.
NewsChannel 21 talked with Brown about trauma and how Black communities historically continue to be disadvantaged through systems like enslavement and oppression, racism and segregation and as has been the tragic focus in recent years, police brutality.
In addition, Brown says Black people fight a stigma surrounding seeking counseling.
“A lot of service, social service or social help has been used to the detriment of Black folks, or the detriment of Latinx folks, or the detriment of indigenous folks," she said. "When you go to interact with some of these services, there is always a risk that something bad is going to happen.”
Recognizing that the Black community suffers from an increased rate of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression, Brown says Black people and other people of color are now joining more social services professions and bringing different perspectives.
This encourages communities of color to seek therapy and brings more variety to the support they are able to receive.
“So I think when you look at the Black community, and I say, ‘Hey, I’m here to walk with you,’ that’s much more what we do culturally, instinctively and naturally.”
After a summer of civil unrest and protests, Brown says months later, there's an openness with many of her patients wanting to talk about experiences not just related to childhood trauma, but also with race.
“Now I’m starting to see that, it’s a safer space," Brown said. "There’s more distance, so people can say, ‘This is what happened, and I don’t really know what that means.’”
Brown practices relationship-based care. She uses objects to evoke memories in patients, such as books, toys, games, breathing exercises -- whatever is necessary for her patient to look at past experiences and examine how they'll impact the future.
Brown says Black people seeking support from a counselor or therapist is nothing to be ashamed of. She believes once you examine your mental health by looking at your past and present, it will better equip your future.