BASTROP, Texas — According to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, while African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious psychological distress than white Americans, they are less likely to get mental health treatment. 

Experts say only a small proportion of mental health professionals are African American. 

Lack of representation from people of color made Krystal Grimes want to become a counselor. Now she is creating safe spaces to ensure that historically excluded groups don't get left behind. 

Journaling is a tool that Grimes uses to support her mental health.

"Being a mother, being a single mother, being a working mom is not easy. And so journaling is also a way that I can really center myself," Grimes said. 

When she really needed counseling, she struggled to find someone she felt would understand what she was going through.

"Someone that was Black, someone that was female and young. That's what I was looking for, and so you know, you may find one thing on the list, but that's what I needed at that time and I had a really hard time finding that," Grimes said. 

It inspired Grimes to become a counselor herself. As leader of the Resilient Bastrop County Initiative, Grimes assesses the mental health needs of Bastrop County residents. 

Dr. Patricia A. Alford is the project coordinator for Bastrop County Accountable Community of Health. She says mistrust of health care professionals is common for African Americans.

"There's a history of the system failing minorities. There's a history of medical practices literally practicing on minorities, so I mean it's understandable but now we have to move past that and start accepting the resources that are available," Dr. Alford said. 

Grimes launched Healing History to talk about the impact of historically race-based trauma and started social wellness branches for Black women to come together. 

"One of the things that I'm seeing is because the people look like them, they're more comfortable with talking and sharing information," Dr. Alford said. 

To learn more about Grimes' efforts, you can reach out to her via email at

"The ultimate goal is to destigmatize mental health, plain and simple. And to make sure everyone has equal access to the mental health support that they need," Grimes said.