Photo provided by Deran Young, Black Therapists Rock

Deran Young is the founder and CEO of Black Therapists Rock, an organization comprised of individuals and agencies committed to improving the social and psychological well-being of vulnerable communities. BTR’s efforts raise awareness of mental health issues.

Young earned her master’s degree in social work and a master’s in public administration, concentrating on leadership, diversity, and organizational culture, from the University of Texas. Her clinical training and experiences have primarily focused on PTSD, suicide prevention, child abuse and domestic violence among military members, their families, and veterans.

Here, Young, who has visited over 32 countries and conducted her final semester of graduate school establishing a high school counseling center in Ghana, West Africa, talks about Blacks and mental health.

Why does a mental health stigma exist in the African American community?
The Black culture is strongly centered on relationships. Our ancestors believed in living communally. This behavior is common in African countries today. The thought of seeking advice regarding life challenges from a stranger is inconsistent with what they are used to, relying on individuals who are familiar. Also, some may experience embarrassment or shame around being diagnosed with a mental illness. It is often seen as a personal defect or weakness in many communities. As a result of generational trauma, we have learned to cover our feelings with a false sense of strength, which totally disregards the value of vulnerability. Often, we become accustomed to ignoring our true feelings after years of being told, overtly or subtly, that it’s not good to “be in your feelings.”

Photo provided by Deran Young, Black Therapists Rock

Tell us about your organization and its function.
At BTR, we are a vital support to mental health professionals who serve vulnerable communities. We have an online community of over 15,000 members and have become an extremely visible movement in one year and four months since its launch. BTR’s community events encourage individuals to acknowledge and face the stigma of mental health treatment.

What are some of your organization’s successes?
BTR was recently acknowledged by the mayor of Baltimore for “helping to educate the public on mental illness and end the stigma that is often associated with it” and featured [Daren Young] in the Huffington Post as one of the “10 Black Female Therapists You Should Know.”

What is the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Although extremely rewarding, entrepreneurship and being a leader, in general, comes with great responsibility. They say “it’s lonely at the top.” I believe it is fairly easy to fall into this category when an individual is faced with the ongoing challenging of prioritizing, both professionally and personally.

Are there hotlines or special numbers that people can call when they find themselves in need of help?
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD

Where would you like to yourself in the next five years?
By 2020, we are projected to have more than 60 local chapters throughout the country. We have recently partnered with agencies such as Capella University and Brené Brown’s The Daring Way to provide more resources and opportunities to our members. We hope to continue to develop successful collaborations with individuals, causes and organizations that share similar vision and mission. We will be publishing several books and documentaries over the next few years. We plan to leverage these as tools to increase mental health awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness. As the founder of Black Therapists Rock, I plan to continue building our exposure through speaking engagements and events worldwide.

Yvette Caslin

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  • HaroldAMaio

    —end the stigma that is often associated with it”
    (Above is an example of that “often”)

  • Eisha Brown

    Thank Deran for your vision and thank you the entire BTR staff!! This group @blacktherapistrock is amazing!!! The group offers a lot of great things to its members. As a member, I’m currently in the mentorship program; and my mentor is very knowledgeable about the mental health profession and provides me with great guidance and ideas to be a more proficient clinician!

  • Idris Talib

    Deran Young epitomizes being a Servant Leader with the building of @blacktherapistsrock. This group is not about meetings that don’t go anywhere but it’s about impacting the lives of the clients that are served as well as a collaboration of best practices whether the therapists are still in school as well as beginning their professional journey or are very seasoned in their journey. This group is very engaging and the future looks so bright for @blacktherapistsrock. I encourage all of you reading to stay tuned.

  • Chasity Chandler

    BTR is not only an amazing organization for our local communities in breaking stigma in regards to mental health in vulnerable populations, but changing the lives of the actual members as well. My life has changed since I met the individuals included in the photo above and those who were gone before we took it. As the Vice President of the organization I have been a part of some of the ground work, first programs and watched the organization and FB community grow. Most of all we have all grown and that has fostered this desire to help many others grow. It started with one, Deran Young, and will end touching the lives of millions maybe more. Teach one to reach one. I love all the work that BTR is doing and can’t wait to see how the local chapters, mentorship program and other projects evolve. Thanks Deran and @blacktherapistsrock for all the ground work you are doing today for a better tomorrow.

  • Letitia Browne-James

    I love this! So glad to be apart of the organization and looking forward to being a part of the Florida chapter! #blacktherapistsrock