Saturday, 25 August 2018

Mental Health in Black Community + My Fave Wellness Writers + Podcasts

Illustration by @humearaillustrates
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Mental health awareness among young people has drastically improved over the past few years. From bloggers to writers and public figures, more people openly discuss their mental health journeys. And  as someone who's struggled with poor mental health, I really admire people's courage and, appreciate the solidarity !  Every little conversation had, does so much collectively to dispel the stigma surrounding mental health. And yet at the same time, I do also find myself feeling somewhat excluded. Sure, I too have a platform and am free to join in the conversation and unload. But at the same time, being black and navigating mental health and sharing it online comes with its own baggage. It's something I'm all too aware of and it does hold me back.

Black British youth are:

  • more likely to be diagnosed with mental health illnesses.
  • more likely to be experience a poor outcome from treatment.
  • more likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to exclusion and deterioration in their mental health. 
And I'd also add, many of us are less likely to openly discuss this. One layer, is having to consider the ramifications for your family, friends and extended network of both. Now the ramifications may not be particularly earth shattering but they're often something I'd say many black youth consider. For those of us who are second-generation migrants, it's likely our parents too have faced a lot of adversity but, they've grown up with different cultural values and societal practices to us. They may prefer turning to prayer and keeping things within the family while some of us would turn to therapy or medication. And that can be a real source of contention.

And then there's the issue of misunderstanding mental health illnesses altogether, which can be found in certain pockets of black communities. Mental health illnesses can be so intangible to those who don't suffer from them. This can lead to minimising the illnesses down to "quirks","low moods","just stress" and "the blues". There are studies that show that black youth are significantly less likely to seek mental health services than their white counterparts. And I wouldn't be surprised if this was at least partly the reason.

Bell Hooks writes about black women's long history of subjugation which she argues, gives us the  "the ability to muster through adversity" - essentially echoing the whole "strong black woman" trope. Although possibly empowering, it's also very problematic because it conveys the idea that black  women have built in capabilities to deal with adversity without help or breaking down. And that then means therapy, looks like weakness.

There's then the other layer of outward perception which we're also burdened with. We're all living in this hyperactive world where employers aren't always so forgiving of, taking sick days or having days of to deal with mental health issues. This is then heightened for black youth who additionally navigate a world where we have to work so much harder and prove ourselves so much more than our white counterparts, just to gain equal footing in the workplace. This makes it especially difficult to then disclose when we're struggling to our employers, universities, etc etc. 

I say all of this to say, that while the mental health conversation is taking place, it can still feel like we're on the outside looking in. So, I thought I'd share my favourite resources from the black community, that articulately discuss mental health and mental wellbeing.

Grace Victory, The SlumFlower , Shope Delano + Nerd About Town 

Roxane Gay, Aaron Barksdale + Yolo Akili♡♡♡♡♡

Therapy for Black Girls + The Friend Zone 

It's super comforting to hear from girls who look like me ♡ ♡ Let me know if there are any others you'd add to this list !


1 comment

  1. Mental health is so important. I am glad you found and shared resources that work for you :) Thank you!

    x Lisa |


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