“Black women are facing an overwhelming crisis of mental health. First, it was racism and now with the COVID-19 pandemic, they are facing one hurdle after another. This has resulted in adverse effects on their mental health.”
As if the stigma surrounding mental health issues wasn’t enough, BIPOC have to struggle even more to get help. Thus, I decided to create this mini resource with some helpful tips to guide black women to take better care of their mental health.
Don’t Let The ‘Strong Black Woman Stereotype’ Get The Best Of You – If there is one thing that keeps many black women away from asking for help is the perception that they are strong enough to handle anything. Growing up, it is bred into many black women that they have to be strong all the time. While this helps fight the racial discrimination they have to face every day, this notion ends up harming their mental wellbeing along the way.
Black women push themselves too hard. They face uncountable challenges at work and look after elders & children at home as well. With the pandemic, they are also home-schooling kids. If you feel stuck and helpless, ask yourself what strength means to you. It takes a brave person to ask for help when they need it. Reach out to people close to you if you feel mentally exhausted. Do not shy away from seeking professional help when the need arises.
Seek Professional Help – The levels of insurance coverage vary for black women in the US. Some do not have any insurance at all. With Coronavirus disrupting the job industry, many black women found themselves jobless in the wake of it too. So, if you are cash-strapped and do not know how to afford professional therapy, you still have an option. Look for colleges and universities around your area with a clinic that trains graduate students to be psychologists and counselors. In most cases, you will be able to get help from a trainee who will be supervised by a licensed professional and a veteran in the field.
If you are working, do not hesitate to ask your HR if they have any employee assistance programs. Finally, online platforms like Black Women’s Health Imperative which routinely offers select programs for mental health, and Melanin & Mental Health will give you the option to connect with the same-race mental health professionals online and within your budget. Other well-known options include Therapy For Black Girls, and WOC Therapy: Mental Health & Wellness For Womxn Of Color.
Get Together With Your Sistahs – Nothing like time spent over shared experiences with other black women. Just as ERGs are important for your workplace, having a tribe of black women for your everyday life is equally significant. Think of it as a support group or a sistah circle. Find like-minded black women so you can gather to support and uplift each other.
If you cannot do it in person, then networking sessions online will do. Having a community with a shared past, collective present, and the urge to have a better future will do wonders for your mental wellbeing. You won’t only have people to understand and support you, but they can guide you when you need help specific to your gender and racial discrimination.
Take Care Of Yourself – While you spend so much time working and taking care of others, know that you must take care of yourself as well. Get at least eight hours of sleep, because inadequate rest can affect your mental wellbeing too.
Go out for a walk daily or do yoga at home. Try to practice meditation daily. Do activities that you love doing by making time so you can relax and unburden yourself after long days at work. Most importantly, take note of people who trigger your stress and anxiety. If you cannot get rid of them, try to avoid them as much as you can. Over time, you will learn to zone them out of your emotional trigger mechanism.
Taking care of yourself and your mental health might be time-consuming, but it isn’t hard. With the world that’s still polluted with bias, discrimination, and racial injustice the only thing you can control right now is how you take care of yourself, so pay special attention to YOU!