MyOwnDoctor, an Illinois-based telehealth company, today announced the launch of the free Heart & Health app, which will provide users with a multitude of culturally specific mental health resources and services beginning in September 2022.
The MyOwnDoctor Heart & Health app is designed to address the mental healthcare epidemic in America rooted in race-based traumatic stress. The app’s services will include weekly free webinars featuring MyOwnDoctor’s mental health experts and will cover a wide range of timely topics — from managing stress and anxiety, to tips for building healthy relationships, to coping with daily stress of racism, discrimination, sexism, and violence.
Multiple crises in America — including a spike in racially motivated violence and gun violence and too few mental health providers, especially in Black communities — have increased the need for culturally specific health care services such as those that MyOwnDoctor provides. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported that 2020 marked the highest spike in reported hate crimes since 2012. Incidents targeting people because of their race increased more than any other category, with the Black community seeing the largest increase.
At the same time, the U.S. suffers from a shortage of mental health providers, particularly in Black and Latinx communities. Only three percent of U.S. psychologists are Black and only seven percent are Latinx, according to the American Psychological Association.
“Everyone has the right to good health — including mental health — but not everyone has access to mental health resources or providers who understand and relate to their lived experiences,” says Cheryle Jackson, chief executive officer at MyOwnDoctor.
“The Heart & Health app offers free access to culturally specific mental health providers, which research has shown can improve health outcomes for patients.”
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience a serious mental illness and 25 percent more likely to experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Despite these realities, fewer than one in three receive treatment.
“A recent study showed that 63 percent of Black participants believed that having a mental health issue represented a personal weakness,” says Dr. Jay Weems, chief mental health officer at MyOwnDoctor and doctorate in Clinical Psychology.
“It’s difficult to improve treatment outcomes when there are so many barriers to that treatment — including barriers like shame and stigma that we construct ourselves. Free, culturally specific care makes it possible to overcome those barriers.”
MyOwnDoctor’s culturally specific subsidiaries, Black Telehealth and Latinx Telehealth, will also host quarterly online healing circles that will establish and provide supportive, healing communities for Black and Latinx members through the Heart & Health app.
Individuals can sign up for a free Heart & Health account at www.myowndoctor.com/heartandhealth to learn more and receive an invite to the first weekly webinar.