Black folks are talking about mental health more often, but the price and access to talk therapy and medication are common barriers for our community. Cryotherapy — or any kind of cold exposure — is becoming a low-cost option for stress relief, anxiety, and depression.
Submerging yourself in an ice bath, taking a cold shower, or going out to the snow with summer clothes on doesn’t sound like an enjoyable experience — and it’s probably not, at least at first. But, Breia White, a picture editor in Los Angeles, started doing cold therapy in 2015.
“Working in television, you’re dealing with crazy executives, crazy timelines, and people having attitudes all the time … and I think that’s just with any high-stress job,” she says. “I was finding that I could not handle the pressure, I was cracking. And a lot of my colleagues were having to use substances to help deal with the stress.”
Turning to drugs and substances was not something White wanted to do. Instead, she learned about the Wim Hof Method, a breathing technique used to reduce stress, increase energy, and aid autoimmune diseases. Later she went through the year-long Win Hof Method Academy and became an instructor where she teaches workshops on breathing and getting into ice baths.
With mental health issues in the Black community plagued with stigma, one study showed that 63% of Black people believe having a mental illness is a sign of personal weakness. Mistrust of the healthcare system can also make it difficult to seek mental health services.
A report by Mental Health America says Black folks living in poverty are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress, and Black teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than white teenagers.
Practicing any form of cryotherapy can be a low-cost temporary alternative to talk therapy, with the average cost of seeing a psychologist ranging from $70-$150 per session. The average price of a cryotherapy session can cost between $60 to $100, cold showers are typically free, doing your own ice baths can cost about $40, and if you live where it snows, it doesn’t cost anything to go outside.