Black Girl Magic. It’s a phrase we all love and feel empowered by. It’s become an ideal that brings us great joy to be associated with just for being a Black woman, being alive, and just slaying in all areas.
Mental health, a topic in the Black community that often times gets ignored, silenced, or just generally not addressed. If it’s addressed it’s from the lens of someone being “damaged,” “crazy,” or “suffering” from issues. But there are beautiful, educated, charismatic, powerful, dynamic women everywhere who exhibit this Black Girl Magic on the outside. Yet, these same women suffer on the inside unable to address this pain with those they love most. Our sisters, mothers, daughters, grandmothers, cousins, friends and loved ones, walking around unsure of how to make it from day to day with a pain that can’t be quantified. Ultimately, if they carry this burden and pain for too long alone, suicide seems to be the only alternative to release because they had no support or effective means to cope.
It’s far past time that we address the silence and stigma surrounding mental health and mental health disorders. According to Mental Health America, Black/African American community members are 20% more likely to suffer from psychological distress. Additionally, they are the least likely to seek care or treatment. The idea of being strong, invincible, and able to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders can be the very pressure that contributes to feeling afraid to discuss what’s really going on with us.
However first and foremost, mental health is vital to overall health and when you are struggling with caring for and maintaining your mental health, your well-being is dependent on being around those who support your individual road to treatment and recovery.
Mental health and Black Girl Magic are not two separate ideals. Jesse Williams described it best: “Just because we are magic, does not mean we are not real.” We all at some point will experience something that is realer than real regarding our mental health, and will appreciate the people who walked beside us and supported us through it; instead of feeling abandoned and alone at such a vulnerable, difficult and sensitive time.
So how do you walk beside your magical Black girl through this journey and reassure her that she is indeed still magical? Or how do you help yourself if you are the magical Black girl experiencing a plaguing darkness associated with your mental health?
Here are some helpful ways to break the stigma and silence and to help save our sisters and ourselves one collaborative effort at a time:
- Encourage or empower her to figure out what treatment plan works best for her and acknowledge that you are here for her. Whatever her treatment plan looks like whether it be counseling, therapy, medication, spiritual/faith journey, reassure her that you want to see her thriving and stand behind her fully. Most times people just want to know that you are there and that you support them.
- Affirm her and affirm yourself if you are suffering because she is fighting a battle that wages war on her soul and her mind/mental state.
- Let her know that her psychological distress does not make her faithless or indicate a broken spiritual relationship, and that while prayer and a faith community are great resources, often other forms of treatment in tandem with her faith work well for her treatment plan. Encourage her to be open-minded and do what works best for her.
- Let her know that she’s not weak, “crazy”, that it’s okay to treat her mental health as a priority and do what needs to be done to prioritize that including eliminating triggers or stressors,
- Let her know that it’s okay to not be okay, but that you will get through this together.
- Let her know that you love her for WHO SHE IS, not what SHE DOES, or what has occurred in her life.
- Let her know that she matters and her presence is so needed.
- Reassure her that she is not alone and she doesn’t have to suffer in silence, while you walk with her through the healing process.
- Most of all let her know that her Black Girl Magic is not contingent upon anything other than her being alive, going through her journey to get well, and showing the world the best of her that there is to offer knowing that Black Girl Magic and mental health can coexist.
For more information on mental health and mental health resources visit: