How to Support & Advocate for Black Mental Health

07-04-2022
The Mental Health Coalition

It’s BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month, so throughout the next few weeks, we’re going to shine a spotlight on how to advocate for healing and social justice for specific communities of color. Learn more about BIPOC mental health and view all of our BIPOC community guides here.

Here we have some tips for Black folks to care for their mental health, and for non-Black people to increase their awareness and learn how to be an effective ally.

Learn About… Systemic Racism & Intersectionality

Racism is a system of giving value and opportunity based on skin color — unfairly privileging white people and unjustly disenfranchising Black people. It is immoral, and lacks justice and equity. Do not take this archetype of deficiency by racists personally. Learn your history and be proud that Black people brought culture and civilization to all of humankind. (OCT & ABPsi)

Racism can be both overt (e.g., violent acts) or covert (e.g., silent attitudes, health care disparities, and corrupt systems). Both can have a profound impact on mental health and wellbeing for generations. (One Mind)

Blackness uniquely interacts with other aspects of identity, like gender, social class, sexuality, and ability status — leading to specific stereotypes and harmful assumptions. (ADAA)

Unlearn… Your Biases

For Black folks… ask yourself what negative ideas you’ve internalized about what it means to be Black. Talk to friends and family in your community who can be your confidants and support your healing. Defy the lie of Black inferiority by embracing the truth of Black culture and history from ancient times to present. (ABPsi &CMH)

For non-Black folks… unpack the stereotypes, assumptions, and emotions you have around Black people. Foster critical consciousness by noticing when something doesn’t feel right and speaking up.

Celebrate… Black Joy & Healing

Joy among the Black community can be found in countless ways. If you are a member of this community, seek out ways to further foster a spark of joy. One way to do this is being in community or faith. Another is creating a self-affirmation that promotes resilience, collective power, and healing from generational trauma. (Wellbeing Trust)

Listen to the wonderful, spirited music that Black people have created over the past century and a half in the face of unprecedented domestic terrorism to imbue us with love and uplift our souls. Capture the groove, move to the rhythms, and lift your voice and sing. (OCT & ABPsi)

If you are not a member of the Black community, work to broaden your mental image so that it includes a multidimensional understanding of the ways in which this community embodies joy and healing.

Embrace… Empathy & Social Justice

Adopt a cultural worldview in which your worth is intrinsic in simply being who you are as a creative life force. Reject the idea that your positive identity and self-worth can be externally derived based on what social media and a clearly unjust, inequitable society might lead you to believe. (OCT & ABPsi)

Stand up, speak out, and develop your capacity to be your best self in the name of creating a just, sacred, and sustainable world. (OCT & ABPsi)

Take into account what you know about the various injustices that Black folks face, and consider ways in which you can take action. This might look like donating to mutual aid funds, reading books about racism by people of color, or taking political action by voting and advocating for important issues.

If you are not Black, consider ways in which you can pass the mic, highlight the talents of, and otherwise make space for Black folks. If you have racial privilege, use it to dismantle inequity while promoting healing.

 

Share Resources & Take Action

 


 

Guide created by MHC’s Research Team: Khyia Ward, Anna-Marie Fennell, Dr. Naomi Torres-Mackie

Guide reviewed by Dr. Linda Myers, The Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi)