There’s no question that Black women face unique challenges regarding mental health support.
Despite the increased dialogue around mental health in recent years, stigmas and lack of resources still prevent many Black women from getting the help they need.
If you’re a Black woman struggling with mental health issues, know that you are not alone. We’ll explore some of the unique challenges Black women face concerning mental health and share some valuable resources for getting help.
Table of contents
- My own experience with mental health struggles
- What is mental health, and why is it an important part of overall health?
- The unique challenges that Black women face when it comes to mental health
- Shocking statistics on Black women and mental health
- Tips for seeking help and finding resources
- A list of helpful mental health resources for Black women
- Mental health care for Black women is complex
- You are not alone in seeking mental health resources
My own experience with mental health struggles
In 2021 and 2022, I’d gone through the worst year of my life to date.
My mother died, my divorce was finalized, I went through a breakup after my divorce, I had to sell my home and move after the divorce, and I struggled a lot mentally with feelings that seemed too big to handle.
I got to a point where I sought therapy because the feelings were way too big, and I need help sorting through them.
What is mental health, and why is it an important part of overall health?
Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. It’s a state of emotional, psychological, and social balance that allows us to feel fulfilled in our lives and relationships.
Mental health affects how we think, act, and handle stress; it also plays a role in determining how we cope with life’s challenges.
Good mental health is vital for managing emotions effectively, making responsible decisions, forming meaningful connections with others, and leading productive lives.
Unfortunately, many Black women face unique challenges when it comes to accessing the resources they need to achieve good mental health.
The unique challenges that Black women face when it comes to mental health
Black women face unique and unfortunate challenges when accessing mental health resources.
Large parts of the medical industry remain unwelcoming to people of color, leading many Black women to struggle in finding adequate mental health support.
Additionally, the American Psychological Association maintains that only 4% of the U.S. psychology workforce was made up of people of color in 2020. And having a mental health professional who can understand your cultural context is incredibly important when seeking mental health help.
On top of this, the stigma of seeking professional help for mental illness remains pervasive within certain communities, making some women feel ashamed about discussing their holistic health needs in public.
As a result, these women can struggle with mental well-being without ever being able to find the right resources or reassurance needed to recover properly.
It’s imperative that we continue working together to increase access and awareness around mental health services available specifically tailored towards Black women.
Shocking statistics on Black women and mental health
Stigmas play a large role in the willingness of Black women to seek help for mental disorders.
Researchers at the California Black Women’s Health Project (CABWHP, 2003) found only 7% of African American women with symptoms of a mental illness seek treatment. In one study, only 13% of African American women with panic disorder sought treatment (Neal-Barnett & Crowther, 2000). In another, older African American women experiencing depression, compared to those under age 50, were less likely to be currently participating in therapy (Matthews & Hughes, 2001).
Unfortunately, these figures reflect a serious gap in access to support resources and treatment options for the Black community.
In addition to inadequate mental health care, there is an intense burden on the shoulders of Black women that can cause deep emotional distress and mental exhaustion.
Black women don’t just battle everyday stressors; we often also face the intersections of racism and sexism, both of which can have a deep impact on our mental health.
Tips for seeking help and finding resources
Seeking help and locating mental health resources can be a difficult process, but there are some things you can do to make it easier.
If possible, talk to your primary care provider first as they may be able to refer you to qualified mental health professionals in your area.
It can also be beneficial to reach out to social support networks such as friends and family for emotional support.
Additionally, look for local clinics or online websites that specifically target Black women’s mental health.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to seek help from an organization like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which provides support and connection in local communities across the United States.
A list of helpful mental health resources for Black women
If you’re a Black woman looking for mental health resources, know that there is help out there. Here are some places to start:
- Black Women’s Health Imperative – The first nonprofit organization created by Black women to help protect and advance the health and wellness of Black women and girls.
- The Loveland Foundation – works to bring opportunity and healing to communities of color, offering therapy grants and financial support for Black women in the US.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness – NAMI offers a variety of resources including crisis hotlines and support groups.
- Therapy for Black Girls – Therapy for Black Girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls. Dr. Joy Harden Bradford’s podcast is also one of my favorites.
- Black Women’s Health Study – offers research-based information and support to African-American women on health topics such as mental health, physical health, stress management, nutrition and more.
- MoodWellth: In addition to app features like one of the largest mental wellness virtual libraries for Black women by Black women, MoodWellth also has a product line to assist them on their wellness journey and they can even schedule one on one sessions with highly trained experts in the fields of psychology, social work, grief coaches, life coaches, fitness experts, nutritionists and even style.
Mental health care for Black women is complex
Mental health issues can be difficult to navigate, particularly for Black women who may face additional cultural and institutional challenges.
Fortunately, there are a variety of helpful resources available to aid in this journey.
Organizations can provide access to mental health providers who understand the unique cultural and institutional barriers that affect black women’s experience.
And, they support groups, substance abuse prevention services, behavioral health coaching and counseling, crisis intervention services and more.
You are not alone in seeking mental health resources
Taking care of mental health is an essential part of fostering overall well-being, and no one should suffer in silence.
There are many safe and supportive resources available to you such as counseling, support groups, crisis hotlines, and more.
You are not alone on this journey – dedicated individuals are prepared to provide guidance and assistance as you work through it.
Do not be ashamed or embarrassed to seek assistance – taking the time to focus on your mental health can be life-changing and make a tremendous difference in your life.
Mental health is an important part of our overall well-being, yet Black women still face unique challenges regarding getting help and access to mental health help resources.
As we move into a world of greater understanding and acceptance of mental health issues, it’s more important than ever that we work to ensure everyone has access to the same quality of care, regardless of skin color.
With some research, finding the right resources for you can be made easier, so take some time today to look around for a provider or agency that works with Black women.
Ultimately, there is no shame in seeking professional help and taking the steps necessary to improve your mental health.
Remind yourself that you are not alone. Many others have been there before you and you can contact them for support and advice if needed – you are worth it!