The Gray Matthews Project (GMP) will be my life’s work. It is me pursuing my passion of promoting and advocating for people of color – specifically, Caribbean Americans and African Americans – to let go of stereotypes and stigmas to pursue and maintain mental wellness. My intention is to use this platform to spread awareness about mental health and overall wellness within my community. I want my work to encourage people of color, especially Black women, to have the courage to break from stereotypes and stigmas to pursue their dreams so that they can live freeing and fulfilled lives.
I intend to build GMP into the foremost online resource on mental health and wellness for Caribbean and African Americans. Research has already proven that racial and cultural diversity is an issue within the mental health field and as a Jamaican-American, I myself, have also recognized that within this diversity issue, is another issue that is largely ignored, and that is the diversity within the Black community. According to the Pew Research Center’s data collected in 2015, 3.8 million Black immigrants live in the US, and the immigrant population makes up for 8.7% of the American Black population. Pew estimates this number to increase to 16.5% by 2060. With the changing demographics, and the consistent rise in mental health issues in our societies, changes within the mental health field is mandatory as our purpose is to serve the citizens within our communities.
As a therapist who is a woman of color, I have firsthand knowledge of both sides of the racial and cultural experiences in mental health. I know that we need more representation within the field. I also know what it takes for people of color to come to therapy. I am privy to clients’ wide-ranging concerns including, what to expect in therapy, their fears of being unable to connect with the therapists, fears of being judged, especially the fear of being viewed as weak, in addition to the difficulties of relating spiritual beliefs to the need to seek professional mental health. As a Black woman, I know the value placed on strength in my culture. This is why I decided to become an advocate for my community as I have intimate knowledge of the struggles African Americans and Caribbean Americans face within the field of mental health.