Mental health. A tricky and practically sensitive topic of discussion in the black family household. Why is that? Why is it when a black child, teen or young adult suffers from any form of depression, anxiety, stress or related issue/disorder, our parents give the good old phrases "it's all in your head" or my personal favorite "you're fine, ain't nothing wrong with you". As a black woman, we are faced with the hard and heavy weight of harm being done to our communities, to our brothers and sisters, to our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers-harm that is generational, economical and systematic.
And yet, when we cry out about our own personal worries, stress and fears, we are expected to smile and go about our days of taking care of others while we self-destruct on the inside. What is it about ourselves that tells us that we must be warm, fuzzy and strong for others but when we need a guide or helping hand, we refuse it because we as black women can't be seen as weak or less than our fellow man?
I remember the first time I cried toy my mom about being depressed, she just looked at me with crest fallen face and actually cried with and said "it's okay". I knew she had and still has her own personal demons and moments of depression but just to hear those simple, short words showed me that it's okay to talk about it. It's okay to cry, scream, yell, shout in anger, in sadness, worry or fear because why should we be expected to be silent? Why must our mental health be taboo and sensitive when we are suffering just as much if not more?
As black women, we have to look, and I mean deeply look at the example we set for not only ourselves but for the children we have or may have in the future, show them that it's okay to speak about what's bothering us, whether it's about a girl, boy, man, woman, death, loneliness, love, heartbreak, worry over an assignment or future career path, the next payday and bill, etc. I've acknowledged that my mom didn't grow up in a time where mental health was even a discussion or a thought. She most likely dealt her cards and moved on with what life threw at her, why? Because that's unfortunately what we as black women do. We place our cards down, draw a deck, stack and move on to the next game that life gives us because, once again we are expected to be strong, resilient and silent about what ails us.
We live in a society now that is testing our stability as not only a community but as people. Now more than ever there should be spaces that we create in order to voice our sorrows so we can deal with what's going on in this country as best as we can. We as black woman shouldn't hold the weight of the world on our shoulders but we do and it's tiring, exhausting even.
We take care of others before ourselves and when can we say that will change? When can we say, enough is enough?
Speak freely about what pains you.
Speak freely about what darkness crosses your thoughts.
Speak freely about the pain, loss and grief you suffer from.
Create the fighting light for yourself because no one else can.
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, stress or any other form of mental illness here is a list of black professionals that maybe able to help:
Unapologetically Us Online community for Black women to seek support.
Black Mental Health Alliance - (410) 338-2642 Provides information and resources and a “Find a Therapist” locator to connect with a culturally competent mental health professional.
Black Mental Wellness Provides access to evidence-based information and resources about mental health and behavioral health topics from a Black perspective, as well as training opportunities for students and professionals.
Black Women’s Health Imperative Organization advancing health equity and social justice for Black women through policy, advocacy, education, research and leadership development.
Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation BLHF has launched the COVID-19 Free Virtual Therapy Support Campaign to raise money for mental health services provided by licensed clinicians in our network. Individuals with life-changing stressors and anxiety related to the coronavirus will have the cost for up to five (5) individual sessions defrayed on a first come, first serve basis until all funds are committed or exhausted.
Ebony's Mental Health Resources by State List of Black-owned and focused mental health resources by state as compiled by Ebony magazine.
Melanin and Mental Health Connects individuals with culturally competent clinicians committed to serving the mental health needs of Black & Latinx/Hispanic communities. Promotes the growth and healing of diverse communities through its website, online directory and events.
Ourselves Black Provides information on promoting mental health and developing positive coping mechanisms through a podcast, online magazine and online discussion groups.
POC Online Classroom Contains readings on the importance of self care, mental health care, and healing for people of color and within activist movements.
Sista Afya Organization that provides mental wellness education, resource connection and community support for Black women.
Therapy for Black Girls Online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. Offers listing of mental health professionals across the country who provide high quality, culturally competent services to Black women and girls, an informational podcast and an online support community.
The SIWE Project Non-profit dedicated to promoting mental health awareness throughout the global Black community.