Racism is a public health crisis. These were the words of Michelle Williams, dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in an op-ed she co-wrote in early June in response to the death of George Floyd. There are numerous connections between racism and negative health outcomes for Black people.
Racism is a public health crisis – Michelle Williams
Specifically, research has shown a connection between incidents of police violence and adverse mental health among Black Americans. The study concluded that exposure to police killings of unarmed Black Americans (in the form of word of mouth or news stories in print, radio, television, or social media) resulted in an estimated 55 million poor mental health days every year among Black individuals in the United States.
Racial discrimination has also been linked to allostatic load in Black adults. This is known as the weathering hypothesis, which asserts that Black Americans experience earlier health deterioration “as a consequence of the cumulative impact of repeated experience with social or economic adversity and political marginalization.”
These organizations are here to help, so if you’re looking for ways to help, these organizations are working to address mental health and overall wellness in the Black community.
GirlTrek is a national nonprofit that encourages Black women and girls to adopt walking as a form of exercise and self-care. GirlTrek members also support local and national policy focused on improving access to safe places to walk, as well as improving walkability in 50 high-need communities across the United States.
In response to Covid-19, the organization released a 10-point action plan for its members, including a guide of 100 acts to undertake radical self-care. The GirlTrek Gives Back Fund provides funding to members to address basic needs such as food, hygiene, medical needs, and housing.
Therapy for Black Girls
Therapy for Black girls is an online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of black women and girls. So often, the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy prevents black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist.
Therapy for Black Girls was developed to present mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant. Therapy for Black Girls works to connect Black women with culturally competent therapists. It also works to de-stigmatize mental health and therapy in the Black community.
If you’re looking for ways to help, these organizations are working to address mental health and overall wellness in the Black community.
Black Mamas Matter Alliance
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Research has linked the weathering hypothesis to the racial disparities observed in maternal mortality.
The Black Mamas Matter Alliance is a Black women–led organization that works on policy and research concerning Black maternal health inequities and also works to ensure that Black women’s voices are centered in the conversation. The organization founded Black Maternal Health Week, which takes place every April and focuses on awareness, activism, and community building to address Black maternal health.
National African American Tobacco Prevention Network
According to the most recent statistics from the CDC, Black individuals are more likely to die from smoking-related diseases than white individuals, despite smoking fewer cigarettes and starting smoking at a later age.
The National African American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) was originally founded to address tobacco prevention and marketing of nicotine and tobacco products to Black audiences. In recent years, NAATPN’s work has expanded to address diabetes, cancer disparities, and HIV/AIDS prevention. It also organizes a biennial State of Black Health conference that brings together public health officials and community advocates to discuss policies to improve Black health.
Black Women’s Health Imperative
The Black Women’s Health Imperative promotes health equity for Black women and girls through health policy, education, and research.
Some of its signature programs include Change Your Lifestyle, which provides coaches to help Black women and men adopt diet and exercise habits to prevent diabetes and heart conditions, and On Our Own Terms, which works to prevent HIV among Black cis and transgender women.
Black Mental Health Alliance
The Black Mental Health Alliance develops, promotes, and sponsors culturally relevant educational forums, training, and referral services to support the health and well-being of Black individuals.
The Okra Project
The Okra project is an American grassroots mutual aid collective that provides support to black trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people.
In response to the violence against the Black transgender community, the Okra Project, a grassroots nonprofit that addresses food insecurity in the Black community, has launched two mental health recovery funds to provide Black trans men and women sessions with a licensed Black therapist, free of cost. The Nina Pop Mental Health Recovery Fund will provide one-time therapy sessions with Black women therapists.
The Tony McDade Mental Health Recovery Fund will provide one-time therapy sessions with Black male therapists.
Shout out to Erika Stallings for originally putting this piece together.