Just like our bodies, our brains need regular checkups. And they need routines to keep them healthy. You exercise, eat right and go to the doctor to keep your physical self well. But do you have the same routines to keep your mind well? The first step to addressing mental health issues is acknowledging how important they are. However, a study published by the National Library of Medicine found that as many as 63 percent of African Americans consider mental health issues such as depression or anxiety to be a personal weakness.
Mental health care is a medical issue. However, when one doesn’t see it as such, they’re less likely to treat it. That’s why any time a public figure speaks openly about mental health, they’re doing a great service for society and paving an important pathway for others to walk down. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, MADAMENOIRE is highlighting mental health books by Black authors to add to your reading list.
The State of Black Girls: A Go-To Guide for Creating Safe Space for Black Girls
By Marline Francois-Madden, L.C.S.W.
Written by licensed social worker Marline Francois-Madden, this book is both for young Black women who are coming of age, and for anyone who works with Black girls such as educators or counselors. It addresses the real-life challenges a young Black girl will face when coming into adulthood in America and provides practical advice, as well as encouraging affirmations. It’s an ideal graduation gift for a girl heading off to college and a must-read for anyone trying to make any environment more welcoming to Black girls.
Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America
By Charisse Jones and Kumea Shorter-Gooden, Ph.D.
Code switching: it’s a well-known concept in the Black community, and this book exposes it at new levels never seen before. Through a mix of story-telling devices including interviews, research, personal tales and more, the book gives a gritty and honest look at all of the ways Black women feel they can’t be themselves if they’re going to get ahead in this country.
Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability
Edited by Stephanie Y. Evans, Ph.D.
This book is equally beneficial to any Black woman wanting to improve her mental health and understand that she is not alone in a desire to do this, and for mental health professionals who want a comprehensive look at Black mental health issues. It combines research and documents from the arenas of political science, health care and psychology to give an intricate look at the obstacles Black women have to overcome in simply trying to achieve emotional wellness.
I’m Telling the Truth, but I’m Lying
Essays by Bassey Ikpi
This intimate collection of essays gives a personal, first-hand look at a Nigerian woman’s journey to a Bipolar II diagnosis. From explosive family dynamics to hospitalizations to extreme mood swings, Ikpi bares it all in this book, revealing what it’s really like to live with mental illness – and the complexities around identifying it. She displays incredible self-awareness and does a great job of not just expressing how she felt but even showing how she appeared to (and impacted) others in her life before finally seeking treatment.
My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
By Resmaa Menakem MSW, LICSW, SEP
Written by therapist Resmaa Menakem, this book looks at how racism impacts a person not just on a psychological level but within the body. The book explains how trauma – first-hand experienced and generational – sits in the body, causing a physical response and shows that it exists in everyone in this country, including white people and even members of the police force. Additionally, it offers a guide for personal healing, and suggestions for societal changes to allow for future generations to avoid hereditary trauma.
The Stress Management Workbook: De-Stress in 10 Minutes or Less
By Dr. Ruth C. White PhD, MPH, MSW
This practical guide on managing stress provides exercises that can be done in – you guessed it – 10 minutes or less, that both reduce the stress response in the moment and strengthen the mind’s stress coping mechanisms over time. It offers well-organized, easy-to-use tools like quizzes, checklists and workbooks to help you identify stressors and make a plan of action for when they arise. All of this is done with the underlying goal of fostering better relationships and helping you achieve your life goals.
Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting
By Terrie M. Williams
Black Pain is the personal story of Terrie M. Williams, a Black female entrepreneur who launched a successful public relations company, thinking that would bring her all the happiness in the world, only to wind up unable to get out of bed. She eventually recognized that she suffered from crippling – but ignored – depression, and with this book hopes to help others open up about their own mental health and eradicate stigmas around depression.
Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks On Me
By Charlamagne Tha God
This book is so impactful because it shows that even those we think “have it all” are still plagued by common fears and anxieties – no amount of money or fame can send those away. Only true personal work and seeking help from mental health experts can. This personal story by rap star Charlamagne Tha God details the artist’s own journey with anxiety and is meant to show anyone struggling with mental health issues that there is nothing “wrong” with seeking help – in fact, it’s empowering.
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