In recognition of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to share five books that highlight the various aspects of Black Women’s Mental Health. This resource guide can be used as bibliotherapy to validate the experiences of our clients as well as offer ways to change the narrative on mental health in the black community.
The Mother of Black Hollywood: A Memoir by Jennifer Lewis
currently known as “Grandma Ruby” on the ABC hit T.V. series, Black-ish, Jennifer Lewis talks extensively about her mental health journey and diagnosis of Bipolar in 1990. She talks candidly of how she resisted the diagnosis initially and refused medication to manage her illness until she experienced a nervous breakdown that forced her to deal with her illness. Now, she wants to encourage others to “do the work” for their own mental health and end the stigma of mental illness in black communities.
“Stigma, fears and just plain ignorance about mental illness, particularly among African Americans has taken a toll on our families and communities.” Actress Jennifer Lewis
Saving Our Last Nerve: The Black Woman’s Path to Mental Health by Dr. Marilyn Martin, MPH with Mark Moss
This book is a handy guide on breaking the silence about mental illness in the Black community. As a public health physician, Dr. Martin uses case studies, and statistics to help Black women manage stress and access mental health services. She also provides tips and tools to help black woman manage their own mental health.
This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe
In this transparent book, Gabourey Sidibe (Gabby) opens up about her unconventional life as well as battle with depression, thoughts of suicide and bulimia. The Oscar nominated lead actress in the Lee Daniel’s movie Precious, and the co-star on the FOX TV series Empire, shares the difficulty she experienced in getting support from her mother for her mental health issues.
“When I first told her I was depressed, she laughed at me. Literally. Not because she’s a terrible person, but because she thought it was a joke. How could I not be able to feel better on my own, like her, like her friends, like normal people? So I just kept thinking my sad thoughts — thoughts about dying,” Actress Gabby Sidibe
After thoughts of suicide, and a meltdown in college, Sidibe sought treatment with therapy and medication, and takes now care of her mental health
Willow Weep For Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
“Music eases my depressed mood. I have come to rely on one song as my morning prayer. I sit and listen to the words, allow them to reach out, like hands, and lift me to a more sacred state of consciousness. They affirm life as something worth living despite this pain I sometimes carry.” Author, Meri Nana-Ama Danquah
This inspirational memoir shares the journey of Meri Danquah, who was born in Ghana and immigrated to the United States when she was six years old. The book shares how she suffered multiple traumas that culminated in self-hatred and depression. Danquah discusses her use of therapy and antidepressant drugs to manage her depression. However, the side-effects caused her to seek solace in alcohol. Danquah goes on to share how her recovery story and the impact of the performing arts in that journey.
Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability edited by Stephanie Y. Evans, Kanika Bell, and Nsenga K. Burton
This compilation on Black women’s wellness emerges from an empowerment framework that incorporates theory, policy and practice. It explores wellness and mental health issues in the lives of Black women as represented in social media, popular culture and in the concept of the strong black women. Mental health professionals will find the practice model useful in individual and group work. Health and wellness advocates are provided with information to use to promote positive policy changes on this topic.
Enjoy the journey,