“There’s a feeling in a lot of black communities that women have to be strong and stoic“. Black Women are so busy taking care of everyone else — their partners, their elderly parents and their children — they don’t take care of themselves.
Being Black in America varies greatly, there are shared cultural factors that play a role in helping define mental health and supporting well-being, resiliency and healing. Part of our shared cultural experience is our family connections, values, expression through spirituality or music, reliance on community and religious networks.
However, another part of this shared experience is facing racism, discrimination and inequity that can significantly affect a person’s mental health. Being treated or perceived as “less than” because of the color of your skin can be stressful and even traumatizing. Furthermore, members of the Black community face structural challenges accessing the care and treatment they need.
According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black adults in the U.S. are more likely than white adults to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress, such as sadness, hopelessness and feeling like everything is an effort.
Black adults living below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to report serious psychological distress as those with more financial security.
Despite the needs, only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Mental Health Facts for African Americans guide, they are also:
Barriers To Mental Health Care
Socioeconomic factors can make treatment options less available. In 2018, 11.5% of Black adults in the U.S. had no form of health insurance. The Black community, like other communities of color, are more likely to experience socioeconomic disparities such as exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources. These disparities may contribute to worse mental health outcomes.
Negative attitudes and beliefs towards people who live with mental health conditions is pervasive within the U.S. and can be particularly strong within the Black community. Many people experience shame about having a mental illness and worry that they may be discriminated against due to their condition.
Provider Bias and Inequality of Care
Black people have historically been negatively affected by prejudice and discrimination in the health care system in the US. And, unfortunately, many Black people still have these negative experiences when they attempt to seek treatment. Provider bias, both conscious and unconscious, and a lack of cultural competency can result in misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment. This ultimately can lead to mistrust of mental health professionals and create a barrier for many to engage in treatment.
1 out of 5 women will experience a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder during pregnancy or after childbirth. Also called perinatal emotional complications, perinatal mood and anxiety disorders include conditions like depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder and can occur any time during pregnancy and the first year of parenting. Emotional complications are the most common complication of childbirth.
38% of new mothers of color experience perinatal emotional complications like depression and anxiety. Women of color experience these complications at TWICE the rate of white women.
60% of women of color do not receive any treatment or support services for perinatal emotional complications. Reasons for this include lack of insurance coverage, social and cultural stigma, logistical barriers to services, and lack of culturally appropriate care.
Postpartum Depression(PPD) is a complex mix of physical, emotional, and behavioral changes that happen in some women after birth. It is linked to chemical, social, and psychological changes that happen when having a baby. The term describes a range of physical and emotional changes that many new mothers experience.
Your body and mind go through many changes during and after pregnancy. If you feel empty, emotionless, or sad all or most of the time for longer than 2 weeks during or after pregnancy, reach out for help. If you feel like you don’t love or care for your baby, you might have postpartum depression. Treatment for depression, such as therapy or medicine, works and will help you and your baby be as healthy as possible in the future.
Office of Womens Health:
Postpartum Support International (PSI) has many resources to help families, providers, and communities learn about the emotional and mental health of childbearing families.
Learn More About Symptoms: http://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/
Find a Provider: https://psidirectory.com/provider-of-color
Resources: For Moms, Families & Providers https://www.postpartum.net/resources/
Black maternal mental health
Mental Health affects everyone; mental health issues affect about 80% of people in one way or another. On this page you can find support, information and leads to people and places that can help you with your mental health concerns.
Here are various directories and networks that have the goal of helping Black people find therapists who are Black, from other marginalized racial groups, or who describe themselves as inclusive. This list is not exhaustive, and some of these resources will be more expansive than others. They also do different levels of vetting for the experts they include. If you find a therapist via one of these sites who seems promising, be sure to do some follow-up searches to learn more about them.
This gorgeous feed features photos and art of Black people, along with summaries of Balanced Black Girl podcast episodes, worthwhile tweets you can see without having to scroll through Twitter, and advice about trying to create a balanced life even in spite of everything we’re dealing with. Balanced Black Girl also has a great Google Doc full of more mental health and self-care resources.
On this feed you’ll find inspirational messages, self-care-Sunday reminders, and posts highlighting various Black mental health practitioners across the country. Black Female Therapists also recently launched an initiative to match Black people in need with therapists who will do two to three free virtual sessions.
This feed focuses on Black mental health surrounding self-love, relationships, and unresolved trauma, along with creating a sense of community. (Like by holding “Saturday Night Lives” on Instagram to discuss self-love.) Following along is also an easy way to keep track of the topics on the associated podcast, which shares the same name.
This brand describes its vision as “a world where women of color are liberated, empowered & seen.” On its feed you can find helpful resources like meditations, along with a lot of joyful photos of Black people, which I personally find incredibly restorative at this time.
With the mission to “Help Black women healing from trauma go from ‘every once in a while’ self-care to EVERY DAY self-care,” this features tons of affirmations and self-care reminders that might help you feel a little bit better.
This social and wellness club for people of color, originally based in Brooklyn, has pivoted hard during the pandemic and now offers a digital membership club featuring virtual workouts, book clubs, wellness salons, creative workshops, artist Q&As, and more.
Founded by writer, lecturer, and activist Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, the Loveland Foundation works to make mental health care more accessible for Black women and girls. It does this through multiple avenues, such as the Therapy Fund, which partners with various mental health resources to offer financial assistance to Black women and girls across the nation who are trying to access therapy. Its Instagram feed is a great mix of self-care tips and posts highlighting various Black mental health experts, along with information about panels and meditations.
If you ever feel tempted to underestimate the pure power of just giving yourself a break, the Nap Ministry is a great reminder that “rest is a form of resistance.” Rest also allows for grieving, which is an unfortunately necessary practice as a Black person in America, especially now. In addition to peaceful and much-needed photos of Black people at rest, there are great takedowns of how harmful grind/hustle culture can be to our health.
Self-described as “a social wellness club for women of color dedicated to living WELL,” this mental health resource actually just pulled off a whole virtual retreat. Follow along for affirmations, self-care tips, and images that are inspirational, grounding, or both
Gorgeous feed, gorgeous mission. Along with posts exploring topics like respectability politics, obsessive-compulsive disorder, self-harm, and loneliness, this Instagram features beautiful photos of people of color with the goal of making “a virtual safe space for young WoC to destigmatize mental health and initiate collective healing.”
This account is all about creating a mental health community for Gen Z and millennial women who have mental illness, along with reducing stigma and sharing information about mental health services. Scroll through the feed and you’ll see many people of color, including Black women, openly discussing mental health—a welcome sight.
This Chicago-based organization focuses on supporting Black women’s mental health in a number of ways, like connecting Black women to affordable and accessible mental health practitioners and running mental health workshops. It also offers a Thrive in Therapy program for Illinois-based Black women making less than $1,500 a month. For $75 a month, members receive two therapy sessions, free admission to the monthly support groups, and more.
Here, some online options to investigate: