Nicole Lewis, LCSW, who is known as the Twitter Therapist, is creating a safe space for Black people to discuss their mental health, which has long been considered taboo.

A “retired perfectionist” who specializes in treating Black adults, Lewis started her own virtual private practice, Legacy Wellness Services, in 2020.

In an interview with Word In Black, Lewis said it’s important for Black people to have therapists who understand their culture and can create a safe, comfortable environment for them to be their authentic selves.

“There’s still a lot of stigmas. Nobody wants to be perceived as being crazy. [My clients] will say to me that their parents have said you don’t need to be talking to them white people about our business because most therapists are white,” Lewis said.

Although studies show that more Black people are seeking mental health services every year, the number of Black people undergoing mental health treatment is still substantially low compared with white people. What’s more, according to the American Psychological Association, only about 4% of therapists in the United States are Black.

She added that for a client to have to constantly explain slang terms or cultural history to their therapist diminishes the clients’ experience.

Social media has been huge for Lewis’s practice, and she even tweets therapy-based worksheets to her followers. “I wanted to offer that to people because it’s super, super important to have resources, and I think we all deserve access to care, regardless of our income level.”