A wise woman once said, “We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead”. Her name is Beyoncé. As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day and the passage of the 19th Amendment, giving white women the right to vote (women of color didn’t obtain real suffrage until the 1965 Voting Rights Act), it’s hard not to think about all that still has to be done. The Beyoncé vibes are flowing right now and it’s time we #GetInFormation! Where do we start?
Before we go out into the world and transform it, we must take care of ourselves first to be sure we are prepared for what society throws at us. Taking care of our mental health is a great place to start. Through receiving the help that we need, you may not know it, but we are also working towards ending the stigma surrounding mental health.
Stereotyping Women of Color
Admitting that you need help and seeking it is often the most difficult part of the process for many women. For women of color, this becomes even more difficult. To understand why, you must know that there are three images that society has created for women of color. They are:
· The strong black woman – history makers (Beyoncé, Sojourner Truth, Michelle Obama)
· The angry black woman – impatient, violent, illogical
· The Jezebel – sexualized black woman
Women of color are constantly fighting these stereotypes, making it difficult to move through the world without a layer of stress hanging over us to overcome these labels. There is a stigma against seeking help for anxiety and stress which gets in the way of finding the resources we need. Not wanting another label of “weak” or “crazy” has had an impact on how many women start therapy.
Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a Woman of Color
It’s often easier for black women to seek help from a professional who is also of color because there is less of a cultural barrier. Chances are that the professional will better understand the client because they have shared experiences within their culture. This may not be the case for all, and it’s important to find a mental health professional that you feel comfortable with and that you feel is best for you.