“Liberating education consists in acts of cognition, not transferals of information.” ― Paulo Freire

By: Madi Aho, MSW Intern

What is “Anti-Oppressive” Mental Health Care? 

The history of psychology and psychiatry is not free from race, gender or class-based bias. Societal “isms” still impact the way mental health consumers are diagnosed and treated today. Leaders in mental health care, are pushing to create “anti-oppressive” standards for mental health care in order to avoid further stigmatization of mental health consumers. According to several academic institutions such as the National Institutes of Health, Stanford Medicine and the European Journal of Social Work, anti-oppressive practice is strongly correlated with positive mental health outcomes.

Main Principles of Anti-Oppressive Practice 

  • A commitment to being conscious of the power and privilege of a practitioner and how that may impact the treatment or perception of the consumer.
  • Acknowledge that mental health care interventions have often been designed by and for white, straight cis-male, English-speaking consumers. 
  • Acknowledge the impacts of sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and more on each individual consumer.
  • Empower consumers to explore and grieve historical/generational trauma that may be affecting their community at large.
  • Explore treatment options that are culturally specific to the consumer, their community and their values.

[Related: Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice in Mental Health]

How to find an Anti-Oppressive Practitioner: 

Although mental health practitioners are working toward standardizing “anti-oppressive” practice in most mental health settings, it may be hard to identify a practitioner who engages in this practice (especially when considering insurance coverage and physical accessibility). 

When looking for mental health treatment, there are a few questions you can ask your provider(s) to determine if they practice “anti-oppressive” mental health care: 

  • How does racial or gender-based oppression affect how you assess and treat your clients? 
  • Does your practice include any liberation-based healing practices? 
  • Have you engaged in any training or workshops regarding the therapeutic treatment of  (Latinx, queer and trans people of color, neurodiverse) populations? 
  • How do you define if an intervention is a good fit for me when considering my cultural identity? 
  • In what ways do you deconstruct racism in your treatment of people of color? 

Scrabble letters spelling mental healthTherapy Directories: 

Therapy for Black Girls 


National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network


Therapy for South Asian Populations (other QTPOC resources included) 


Therapy Directory for POC


Latinx Therapy Guide



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