7 Quick Notes on Black Mental Health and Social Justice

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Felt the need to share a few things about Mental/Emotional Health and Social Justice. Like to hear it? Here it go:

1. Mental & Emotional Health does not equate therapy. Mental and emotional health care is also yoga, and altar building, generative somatics, spades games and storytelling and touch. It is the domain of an entire community. We all have a responsibility to practice emotional harm reduction with how we engage each other and reinforce loving emotional health norms. And we each have a responsibility to hold those accountable who harm us in our communities, a skill we are currently desperately lacking.

2. Therapy is often not safe for everyone. It can be a challenge for many depending on where you live and who you are. The field has a serious lack of training on how to support you if you are gender non-conforming, Trans, queer, disabled, working class, a woman or Black. And Goddess forbid you are more than one of the latter. Let’s not conflate proximity of service as meaning a service itself is accessible.

3. Not everyone has the coin, or time and privilege to sit up an hour a week with someone without returning home to an eviction notice, a social worker threatening to take their children, or any other range of crises. The way mental health care (therapy) is set up in this country is itself a barrier. Clock your privilege if you believe otherwise.

4. The goal (my goal, anyway) is to help cultivate communities where all of us learn to harness our abilities as healers of each other and ourselves alongside dismantling systems of harm. Licensed professionals with a Black feminist lens are a part of this. And so are teachers, activists, organizers, artists, barbers, coaches and more. Everyone needs to be at that table.

5. Therapy and any emotional health care only works if you do. You are a co-healer in the process and you should always have agency. At best, healers/therapists are guides helping you sort through the muck. They are human and make mistakes and they do not know everything. If you are not honest, if you are not open, if you are only telling one sided stories or if the therapist has a stake in helping you propagate your myths, you are not healing.

6. Shaming people into mental health care is creating harm. 
It is unacceptable. Class shaming is unacceptable. You don’t get to dictate how someone else spends their dollars. And using social media to make sweeping generalizations about someone’s economic choices without context, is immature at worst and at best, useless.

7. Let’s love on each other and ourselves as much as we can. And focus on shifting institutions instead of shitting on each other. And when we do the latter, let’s try to apologize, look at what it is within us that lead us to do that, and work through it—- to minimize the chance of it happening again by having friends and community who will hold us accountable.  

Note: I don’t write this as someone who has not created harm in doing any of the above. Please don’t share it with the suggestion that you yourself have not either. We all have work to do.

-Yolo

Check out these spots for more:

BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective)

National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network

Psychology’s Feminist Voices

Beverly Green

Asia Jones Productions

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