For centuries, women of color have had their feelings, mental health issues, and health problems invalidated due to countless untrue assumptions. Many people, especially in communities with people of color, mental health isn’t taken seriously. Because of this, seeking help for mental health is less likely for anyone in one of these communities. But why are women of color not validated with their mental health issues the same white women are? And what can we do to help?
One of the reasons women of color are not validated in terms of their mental health issues compared to their white counterparts is because “they are supposed to be strong”. Because of icons that are women of color such as Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, and Priyanka Chopra that symbolize strength and power, everyone assumes women of color never feel sad or never go through mental health problems. This cannot be farther than the truth. Women of color go through more harassment, abuse, and traumatic events than white women, and yet only a fraction of those women seek therapy and/or mental health counseling due to the untrue stigmatism that seeking mental health is for the weak or negative cultural astigmatism on mental health. Not only should women of color stick together and support each other through inner battles both unknown and known, but women and more than that humanity should support women of color through these battles.
There are countless things we can do to help this mountaineering issue in our community. The three biggest things are to listen, validate, and offer advice. By listening to someone’s struggle, we must give them the freedom to say their whole and raw truth. Many struggling with mental health often second-guess themselves and often believe negative mental health is normal because of how many times they struggle with it. It is vital to validate their feelings, not validate this is normal, but still validate that many people go through this and they are not alone all in a nurturing conversation. The last thing that is critical when talking to a woman of color about their mental health struggle is to offer advice. Offer a support group, therapy, or even a one-on-one session with you to help ease their tension every week. To give advice to someone struggling with their mental health it is important you are educated yourself on how to give advice! Doing research, reading books, and listening to health professionals is a great way to start educating yourself on the severe impacts on women of color due to mental health. It is not enough by giving women of color a pat on the back or a word of encouragement to counterbalance their mental health as so many do. It is not enough to say “just try to be Lizzo” when a woman of color asks for help. We must do better for our world and to do that we must support our fellow colored sisters and their struggles.