From Susan’s Desk
January 27, 2022

February is Black History Month. There are many reasons why Black History Month and mental health are so intertwined, but I will highlight three.

  • Mental health is still highly stigmatized in certain cultures, chief among those is the black community. Going back hundreds of years, a common mindset is that depression or anxiety is nothing compared to slavery, and surely if slavery can be overcome, so can “the blues.” Nor were slaves allowed to take care of feelings of depression and anxiety. Over time, the values and norms were passed down from generation to generation that mental health challenges were a sign of spiritual or moral weakness, rather than an illness which could be treated.
  • Racism is a mental health issue because racism causes trauma. Traumatic experiences are a leading reason why people experience mental health conditions. Trauma is not just caused by hate crimes, but just like a pebble in a shoe can cause major pain and injury when left in place, smaller, everyday racist experiences can cause trauma. Every day events such as:
  • Finally, to add insult to injury, while there is a national shortage of mental health professionals, it is especially hard to find a black therapist. While sharing the same skin color is not a mandate for mental health professionals, it certainly helps the therapeutic relationship when the therapist can relate to the client and shares similar backgrounds and cultures.

While I can be an ally, I cannot really know how this feels as a black person.  So, for the next two issues of Talk during Black History Month, you will hear from some of Josselyn’s staff who are proud members of the black community, and who will share what Black History Month and mental health means to them.  I am indeed optimistic that Josselyn can provide mental health for all. 

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.” — General Colin Powell



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