Black Mental Health Week 2022

February 18, 2022 | Rachelle

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In March 2020, the City of Toronto hosted the inaugural Black Mental Health Day, spearheaded by Taibu Community Health Centre.  What started out as an awareness campaign, quickly swelled to become a time to highlight and reflect upon the effect that inequity and anti-Black racism has laid upon Black Torontonians. So much so that in 2021, the Mayor of Toronto extended this proclamation from one day to one week. Paul Bailey, Executive Director of the Black Health Alliance, shares his thoughts below in one of four video clips about Black Mental Health. 

Over the past few years, post-slavery societies all over the world have "woken" up to the reality of everyday racism that people of African descent experience. This recognition has included patterns of Black mental health that illustrate tremendous stressors and strains due to systemic discrimination. Patterns of addictions, mood and anxiety disorders are disturbingly high the world over due to inequities in income, employment, healthcare, housing, education, and criminal justice; along with incredible physical health burdens which included negative COVID-19 outcomes. Although awareness of these issues has been increasing and many organizations are looking at their policies through an equity lens, there is still much work to be done.

This post shares some helpful books from the TPL Black Mental Health reading list. I also recommend checking out this great list of Anti-Black Racism & Mental Health Resources from the City of Toronto to support those in discovery and healing. 

Lastly to learn more, tune into our event on Monday, March 7th @ 7 pm with Dr. Akwatu Khenti and Dr. Justine Joseph as they present on Understanding Black Mental Health and answer your questions. 

The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health

The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health by Rheeda Walker

This book is an unflinching exploration of Black mental health. "Psychologist and professor Rheeda Walker provides a comprehensive road map to getting the care you need and deserve... over flowing with essential information for navigating the system, this is an invaluable resource that will help you recognize and understand mental health conditions, discover real tools for coping with symptoms, and show you have to advocate for yourself " – from back cover 

Black Fatigue

Black Fatigue: How Racism Erodes the Mind, Body, and Spirit by Mary-Frances Winters

"Winters describes how in every aspect of life – from economics to education, work, criminal justice, and, very importantly, health outcomes – for the most part, the trajectory for Black people is not improving. It is paradoxical that, with all the attention focused over the last fifty years on social justice and diversity and inclusion, little progress has been made in actualizing the vision of an equitable society." – From publisher's description

The Strong Black Woman

The Strong Black Woman by Marita Golden

This book shatters the persona that Black women need to be the back bone and chief caretakers for everyone in their lives, shouldering the load while ignoring their own pain. Through exposing the Strong Black Woman Syndrome, learn about the importance of self-care and how to break through the cultural and family resistance to seek therapy and professional mental health care. 

Dear Black Girl

Dear Black girl: Letters from Your Sisters on Stepping into Your Power by Tamara Winfrey Harris

"Winfrey Harris organizes a selection of these letters, providing “a balm for the wounds of anti-black-girlness” and modeling how black women can nurture future generations. Each chapter ends with a prompt encouraging girls to write a letter to themselves, teaching the art of self-love and self-nurturing." –From publisher's description

Black Pain

Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting by Terrie M. Williams

This book "identifies emotional pain – uniquely and profoundly affecting the Black experience – as the root of lashing out through desperate acts. Terrie encourages us to face the truth about the issue that plunges our spirits into darkness, so that we can step into the healing light. The help the community needs is here: a clear explanation and a guide to finding relief." –From Barns & Noble description


Related links

Black Mental Health Reading List

Black History Series

The Rita Cox Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection