“Are you OK?”
Not to butcher a Stevie Wonder reference, but these three words can make the difference between someone overcoming a life obstacle or being unable to get past it. Let’s face it, we are all going through some pretty serious and traumatic ish—in almost real time—and the beautiful thing is that we’re open about facing it, not shying away from the work.
But the same cannot be said for everyone in every situation.
Talking about really intimate subjects such as attempted suicide, sexual abuse and assault, or addiction to substances isn’t easy for most. And when you weigh in other factors such as ethnicity and inclusivity, it can be made harder when most days feel like directed attacks at who you are and how you identify.
“How can I help?”
You don’t need to have all of the degrees to be open with yourself, friends, and family about mental health. Thanks to the internet and the kindness of advocates all over the globe, we can access all the guides, toolkits, and websites that one needs to support themselves or a loved one.
This timely compendium is intended for Complex readers to share and use—especially if you are experiencing any mental or emotional anguish where this could aid you in finding the assistance you need. The list of resources below is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a starting point for those in search of help.
Figuring out how to calm your mind and your body can be frustrating. Meditation apps, podcasts, tool kits, and more can help you learn to meditate and discover the techniques that work best for you.
Free Meditation Resources
- Stop, Breathe, and Think: Find your calm with short activities in tune with your emotions that are designed to help you get more sleep and less stress.
- The Honest Guys: Every guided meditation, visualization, and soothing talk session is meant to aid you in centering your chakras.
- Yellow Brick Cinema: Home of the world’s best relaxing music, with songs meant to help you unwind and rejuvenate yourself while improving mental wellness.
- Liberate: Culturally relevant resources are at the center of this app, which provides Black, brown, and the “larger global majority” with meditation and wellness tools. There is a free seven-day trial and a diverse group of teachers to choose from.
- The Chopra App: Renowned author and wellness advocate Deepka Chopra’s free app boasts self-care, guidance, wellness, and meditation tools. The platform is also filled with resources that can be acquired through in-app purchases.
Free Online Mental Health Resources
- BEAM: Created by a collective of advocates, the Black Emotional & Mental Health tool kit is an encouraging one to have handy when you want to stay connected to emotional health care and healing.
- The Mighty: Much of this mental health content (including self-talk exercises, worksheets, and more) is downloadable, printable, and shareable, so use this and empower yourself and others to take what’s needed and build upon the positive.
- Healing in the Face of Racial Trauma: For and by people of African ancestry, this free downloadable toolkit is a self-care resource geared towards supporting those dealing with the trauma of violence against their communities.
- Boris L. Henson Foundation Support Groups: Founded by actress Tariji P. Henson, the foundation offers customized lists of free virtual support groups for teens and young adults within the Black and brown communities.
- 7Cups: Those who just need a listening ear can log into 7Cups to receive free emotional support from peers or pay for professional therapy.
- Bliss: This eight-session self-therapy course helps those who are struggling with depression. This interactive program is based on cognitive behavioral therapy that improves mental health and mood.
- Therapy Aid Coalition: Catering to the mental health of essential workers, this organization gives free and low-cost therapy options to these workers and their families
Streaming Mental Health Resources
Podcasts such as Balanced Black Girl, Terrible, Thanks for Asking, and Self Care IRL aid in affirming light and love, as well as offer insights on proper resources for mental wellness. Spotify has lots of great resources, including the ones listed below.
- Identity-n-Me: This podcast highlights the importance of self-awareness by featuring guests who share their self-identity beyond race, gender, and sexuality.
- RZA Meditation: The Wu-Tang rap veteran leads a seven-track guided exploration playlist on Spotify, created with TAZO tea.
- Asians Do Therapy: Licensed therapist Yin J. Li discusses mental health topics with members of the Asian and Asian American community.
- Head in the Game with Rob Hill Sr.: An encouraging podcast that highlights how athletes and celebs find mental strength and balance.
- Latinx Mental Health Podcast: Mental health within the Latinx (or Latine) community can be taboo, but this podcast challenges the stigmas around mental health and Latinx culture with diverse guests and a cup of herbal tea.
- Headspace Guide to Meditation: An illustrated journey broken down into eight episodes that teach the foundations of meditation.
- Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things: This documentary calls out the compulsory consumption that keeps some Americans on the hamster wheel, feenin’ for more things that lead to unhappiness. The film offers viewers a simpler option.
- Becoming: Our former first lady Michelle Obama has an inspiring story that brings positivity and encouragement to those who are trying to overcome social odds.
- The Playbook: Five legendary coaches share the ideologies that have helped them push athletes to champion-status greatness and how that can translate to finding success in everyday life.
- The Mind, Explained: A series examining how the mind works through five distinct episodes. It also touches on how to improve mindfulness and ways to decrease anxiety.
For those who cannot afford (or find) a therapist, hearing from voices like Anna Freud, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, and the VlogBrothers can be a balm while waiting for health insurance to evolve. Here are some other YouTube channels that offer great mental health content.
- Mental Health Mukbang: The Asian Mental Health Collective created this instructional YouTube playlist to answer questions that affect mental and public health.
- The Black Mental Wellness Lounge: This channel covers topics that specifically affect Black people’s mental health, but it’s not all negative. The host, Brandon J. Johnson, MHS, also highlights joyous moments within the community.
- LatinxTherapy: LatinxTherapy approaches mental health within the Latinx (or Latine) community from a decolonized perspective. The YouTube channel and podcast feature Latinx health professionals and community members.
- Just Press Pause: This site hosts YouTube coping and wellness videos led by diverse instructors. The page also offers additional mental health resources.
- The Psych Show: Dr. Ali Mattu dishes out mental health tools and techniques weekly in an easy and fun way.
Addressing the high cost of paying for therapy, these organizations know that the work comes in breaking through barriers to create quality mental health equity for all.
- LGBTQ Psychotherapists of Color: Grassroots and volunteer-led, this Northern California-based directory of therapists offers community-building and leadership development opportunities by members ranging from clinics to private practices.
- National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network: The NQTTCN, a healing justice organization rooted in social justice, works as a resource to intervene in any harm and violence perpetrated by the medical-industrial complex.
- Asian American Psychological Association: The APPA uses research, education, policy, and professional practice to advance the mental health and well-being of the AAPI community.
- The Asian American Health Initiative: The AAHI, an organization founded by members of the AAPI community of Montgomery County, Maryland, also offers resources for dealing with stress and staying active, with the goal of well-being.
- The Asian Mental Health Collective: The AMHC makes mental health care available and accessible, taking away the stigma somtimes attached to it through a directory of therapists who specialize in serving the AAPI community.
Black American Resources
- African-Americans, Anxiety and Depression Association of America: A diverse network of researchers and providers focused on improving the quality of life for Black Americans, the ADAA works to help people find treatment, resources, and support.
- BEAM Black Virtual Wellness Directory: In envisioning a world with no barriers to Black healing, BEAM offers virtual services from doulas, therapists, herbalist, and other well-meaning practices that can help during any ordeal.
- Brother, You’re on My Mind Toolkit: Developed by the national chapters of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., this toolkit is a community outreach opportunity for Black American men who want to build and address the stress that impacts them directly.
- Therapy for Black Girls: Dr. Joy Harden Bradford is the founder of this online space for Black women and young girls, and her directory of over 2,000 mental health providers is an important resource for anyone who cannot find a virtual or in-office therapist.
- NAMI’s Compartiendo Esperanza: The National Alliance on Mental Illness provides insight on key topics such as signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, and offers guidance on how to achieve recovery after trauma.
- Therapy for LatinX: A database solely for the Latinx (or Latine) community, this directory is meant for those who have a hard time finding resources and are in need of a therapist. Also available in Spanish, it is an important resource.
- National Alliance for Hispanic Health: The now-rebranded organization has expanded since its 1973 founding and helps more than 15 million Latinx (or Latine) people learn about mental health improvements and the changing needs within the community.
- Indigenous Story Studio: Formerly known as the Healthy Aboriginal Network, this Canada-based nonprofit incorporates art, design, and comic books as resources to educate the youth on health and social issues.
- One Sky Center: This national resource center’s initiatives include evidence-based practices and Native-to-Native mentorship for American Indians and Alaska Natives who want treatment options for mental health and substance abuse problems.
- WeRNative: Taglined “For Native Youth, By Native Youth,” this is a comprehensive health resource that promotes holistic health opportunities and positive growth for local communities and nations at large.
- Open Path Psychotherapy Collective: This network offers middle- and lower-income individuals access to affordable psychotherapy and mental health education services at what it says are “steeply reduced rates.”
You know just how good meditation is for you once you give it a try. Don’t let high-cost subscriptions and outdoor memberships unsettle you before you can ground yourself. These self-care techniques are meant to bring calm to your daily routine.
- Headspace: Being recommended by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America is a big claim, but when you add in that the app is designed to teach mindfulness and meditation techniques, you’ll instantly start to feel better. (Note: Use the code COMPLEX2021 for one month free after signing in or registering.)
- Mindful: A popular app for those just starting out in meditating, this will help you get familiar with the basics. It offers timed sessions of anywhere from three to 30 minutes and the ability to customize your meditations.
- Moodfit: A free tool available in GooglePlay that provides you with insights meant to “shape up” your mood. If you’re already about keeping your body tight, then getting a better understanding of your feelings is the way to keep your mood full of light.
Relaxation and Decompression Apps
- TalkLife: The stigma surrounding therapy hasn’t quite dissolved as mental health becomes a buzzword in certain circles. TalkLife is meant to be your safe space for talking openly about your issues with others who get it. A caring community of thousands means you’ll have plenty of chances to listen, talk, and help yourself feel a bit more at ease.
- Sanvello: A mindfulness app for the mind-consumed, Sanvello can help you identify your feelings or troubles, then move toward acceptance and peace. Techniques such as visualization, muscle relaxation, and more all nudge you closer to that calm and serene feeling.
- Happify: Decompressing after dealing with stress is made a bit more fun with this app, which has an eye toward improving your mood and building resilience for later. Happify’s evidence-based games borrow from positive psychology to add empowerment to your life.
If you’re feeling too uptight and stressed to get a decent night’s sleep, these YouTube channels and playlists are a great place to turn.
For the Sleepers
- Channel Water: Led by Moses Klein and Trisha Paytas, this YouTube channel has caught people’s attention because it is such a calming presence. Musings such as “You Are a Walking Tree” and “Coping With Grief and Loss” discuss what life really might be in a genuine and earnest way.
- Karuna Satori: An ASMR staple, this YouTube channel is a full catalog of sounds that will help you relax, relate, and release.
- Tiny Kitchen: Originally a Tastemade series, this is as satisfying to watch while awake as it is to dream about while asleep. If you’re into relaxing things viewing, you should check this one out (but not on an empty stomach though).
We can all help prevent suicide by honestly being there for one another. These crisis resources and strategies are free, confidential, and available 24/7 to anyone in distress.
- Call BlackLine: 1 (800) 604-5841
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- GLBT National Hotline: 888-843-4564
- The California Peer-Run Warm Line: 1-855-845-7415
- Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text TREVOR to 1 (202) 304-1200
- Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
General Support (Not 24 Hours)
- SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline: 1‑877‑726‑4727
- National Alliance on Mental Health Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)