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Seattle therapist starts effort to give Black community free access to mental health care

The Washington Therapy Fund aims to provide Black people with help for emotional traumas, as the community is hit disproportionately by systemic racism and COVID-19.

SEATTLE — A Seattle therapist is raising money to provide free mental health services to the Black community, and she's calling on white allies to get involved. 

Global protests and racialized traumas have Black therapists working overtime. 

"A lot of people actually seek me out because ... one, there's not a lot of Black clinicians in the state of Washington, and two, there's very few of us who actually specialize in this work,” said Ashley McGirt, a licensed therapist.

McGirt is helping her clients tackle two pandemics at the same time. 

"They reach out to me, but it's been exacerbated with the protests and with the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. So, it's been a lot of tension added on to the grief of experiencing all the losses of COVID-19. Plus, recognizing that the number one people exposed and impacted by COVID-19 are Black people,” McGirt said. 

McGirt started the Washington Therapy Fund to provide free counseling sessions for at least 100 Black people in Washington state.

More than $20,000 has already been donated to the fund. The funds will cover 4 to 6 sessions. Therapists will be paid $125 per session. The sessions are free to clients. 

"I'm really hoping that they're able to express themselves in a safe environment that they're able to get coping skills and tools to really manage their triggers process their through their emotions,” McGirt said. 

McGirt is reaching outside of the Black community to help pay for the sessions, especially white allies looking for ways to fight racism. 

”I just really want my community to have collective healing because it never happened for my ancestors," McGirt said. 

For more information about the #WATherapyFund and how to donate, visit the Washington Therapy Fund's GoFundMe page. 

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