OPEN LETTER TO PSYCHOLOGY TODAY
By Psychotherapist Margena Carter
I am a millennial.
I am also a psychotherapist, specializing in matters of the mind (mental illness) and heart (marriage, relationships and sexuality.) Furthermore, I’m also a unicorn. I’m one of a handful of African American women, practicing psychology nationwide. I love psychology, and analyzing what makes the mind tick. Plus, I’ve always been interested in human behavior since I was a kid.
During the month of October, we acknowledge Mental Health Awareness Week, bringing awareness to mental health issues and encouraging loved ones to get the help they need. Like all mental health professionals across the America, I want to stop the stigma attached with mental illness. Celebrities like Kanye West (Bipolar disorder), Demi Lovato (addiction, Bipolar disorder), Kid Cudi (anxiety and depression), Selena Gomez (panic attacks), Mariah Carey (Bipolar disorder), Michelle Williams (depression) and Jenifer Lewis (Bipolar disorder) are among the list of big names in the entertainment industry who have come out of the shadows, and shared their struggles with some sort of mental health illness and treatment. However, we’ll never see them on the cover of Psychology Today. Unfortunately, Psychology Today, the industry bible, has a diversity problem.
I’ve been a subscriber of Psychology Today since a freshman in college. I’ve had my subscription for more than 10 years, and although I commend the magazine for focusing on a variety of topics that makes psychology accessible, I’ve never seen a person of color featured on the cover. It comes out six times a year, and yet there’s a clear absence of diversity. For example, the topic of mental health keeps popping up in pop culture across ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds; yet, the publication doesn’t represent the diverse faces of people suffering from mental illness. Images are impactful. After all, mental illness is not a “White people’s problem.”
I’ve done a little research. Since it’s launch in 1967, I've found only THREE people of color featured on the cover. THREE -- that is, an African American woman, who I’ve been unable to identify (June 1984), the Dalai Lama (June 2001), tv personality Lisa Ling (February 2003), and for honorable mention, I’ll include the graphic illustration of an African American women featured on the September 2003 issue.
Note to editor Kaja Perina: To be featured on the cover of Psychology Today is a bucket list item for me. I want my presence to show up for diversity and representation among people of color. I think it’s time for the covers to represent the world we live in – a diverse one, with diverse voices and experiences.
It’s 2018. It’s time for Psychology Today to be more inclusive. Your publication could help us decrease the stigma of mental illness with different images on the cover. People of color want to be reflected on the newsstands!
Mental illness does not discriminate, so why are you? It’s been almost 35 years since you’ve featured a black woman on the cover of Psychology Today. Let's break the cycle and the drought. Starting with me.
If you know the name of the African American woman featured on the cover of the June 1984 cover of Psychology Today, please let me know.
Margena Carter is a licensed psychotherapist, specializing in matters of the mind (mental health) and the heart (marriage and relationships). She is the founder of Carter Care Therapeutic Services, her private practice located in Los Angeles. Follow her on Instagram at @MargenaCarter and Twitter at @CarterCareThrpy