LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — As the nation looks inward during Mental Health Awareness Month, one local therapist said the largest roadblock for African-Americans in seeking mental health treatment is their fear of being stigmatized, and he’s looking to help break those barriers.

Jonathan Harrell, a local social worker and therapist, tells News 10 that research shows over 80% of African-Americans are concerned about being judged by society, mostly a mindset of older generations. He said despite recent progress, there is still a significant stigma associated with mental health concerns in the African-American community.

Harrell and other mental health professionals will discuss more topics on mental health this weekend at a local Health Awareness Summit. The event is Saturday, May 21st at Lift City Church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free registration is required before attending the event.

“Culturally we like to keep things in our house or just in the inside of us,” said Harrell.

The idea of appearing weak or unstable can make acknowledging psychological struggles in the Black community difficult. The Black community, Harrell said, is at a significantly increased risk of developing a mental health issue due to historical, economic, social, and political influences.

Harrell said he uses a culturally responsive mental health treatment approach.

“A lot of it is internalized and we keep a lot of it in and try and deal with it on our own,” he said. “We really need to get it out. Whether it be through journaling or talking to people we can trust.”

Harrell says studies show the mindset to “not spread your business” in the Black community was passed down through generations.

“I do see people in their 50s growing up in the mindset of take all of this in and let me keep going,” said Harrell.

He says in recent years, younger generations have helped to de-stigmatize mental health, allowing for more people to seek treatment.

“The people that I have seen that reached a breaking point to where they say I need outside help, it’s because of the youth and the younger generations making therapy so popular,” said Harrell.