Updated: Jun 29
14 Valuable Books and Additional Helpful Resources
The Importance of Therapy and Working Through Apprehension When Seeking Help
It’s no secret that mental health as a whole has been stigmatized and misunderstood for far too long. It can feel incredibly isolating to deal with a declining mental state, as well as incredibly intimidating to know when and how to ask for help when it’s needed. We know that mental illness does not discriminate against specific demographics, but there are certainly some that are indeed more affected than others while also being underrepresented and without the necessary access to the appropriate care.
Within the last few years, the American Psychiatric Association reported that African Americans are more likely to have a higher persistence of depression, a higher likelihood of developing disabilities due to mental illness, and also a lower probability of obtaining adequate mental health care. This is a massive and ongoing problem within the US that needs to be confronted and challenged from every possible angle for countless reasons, but what it really boils down to is the fact that millions of people in the US are suffering and need access to quality care.
If quality care is attainable, this does not take away the fact that it can still be incredibly intimidating to take the leap towards asking for help and treatment. There’s a lot of apprehension surrounding therapy and counseling, which is indeed very understandable. Asking for help is scary, especially when it comes to a topic that has been so taboo in the past and when it’s through a system that has failed so many before.
Apprehension When it Comes to Therapy
It is completely understandable for there to be apprehension when it comes to reaching out and choosing to attend therapy. What if it’s too difficult to find a therapist that’s the right fit? What if it doesn’t end up working? These are common questions to have, and it is scary and nerve-wracking to tap into that vulnerable place and open up to an essential stranger. The good news is that therapists understand these factors, too (or at least the right one will, and they will reassure you to certify you’re comfortable).
It’s normal to take some time to calm any nerves and work your way into opening up. Even discussing any doubts or concerns you may have about the process is a great first step to take if you’re seeking therapy or counseling for the first time. It might help you to approach therapy with the intention of also getting to know your therapist well and the individual experiences that they have with handling the specific needs that you possess.
At the end of the day, therapy is for anyone and everyone, and you don’t need to come to a place of deteriorating mental health to seek out mental health assistance. Mental health is health, and taking care of it will also have direct impacts on the physical health in a positive manner, too. The unknown is typically scary to most of us, but it’s true that when it comes to therapy, this generally means that what’s on the other side of the unknown is a place of increased stability, support, and understanding of ourselves and those around us.
When we aren’t quite able to really understand or articulate our experiences and how we feel, the right books can offer us an ideal way to do just that. Mental health is an ongoing subject matter that will never not be of the utmost importance, and diving in to understand on a deeper level how people of color are affected by mental illness is even that much more important. Below you will find a comprehensive list of 14 various books offering inspiration, healing techniques, solutions, strategies, encouragement and more, that are primarily written by POC that work in the mental health field, with a few exceptions.
Soothe Your Nerves is a book that analyzes how black women are affected at alarming rates by severe anxiety disorders and yet still expected to remain strong when facing such debilitating mental health concerns. Dr. Barnett is encouraging and provides the reader with an assortment of healing techniques to help calm the nerves and significantly diminish anxiety levels.
In Willow Weep for Me, Danquah eloquently writes about her experience with battling depression and the emotional healing journey that she underwent and recounts in this memoir. Willow Weep for Me touches on the unjust expectations that are placed on black women in society to be stronger than mental illness, as well as the fact that so many women end up suffering alone for way too long. Danquah offers the reader vast inspiration with her story of understanding herself on a more profound level and healing.
My Grandmother’s Hands is a highly acclaimed book that explores how extreme racism plays a direct role in bodily trauma that is stored for lifetimes and passed down through generations. Inspired by his grandmother, Menakem uses his knowledge as a social worker to dissect how the mind-body connection in black individuals has been and continues to be affected by lifetimes of white supremacy, while also offering mindfulness and breathing exercises for the reader to partake in.
In The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health, Dr. Rheeda Walker breaks down why mental health support has been and is still so inaccessible to African Americans, as well as the overall effect that this ends up having on this demographic. Dr. Walker aims to help the reader with fighting a range of stigmas and on how to approach the United States healthcare system since it was built to primarily cater to privileged individuals.
Dr. Claire Weekes writes about how to overcome anxiety, fear, and chronic stress in Hope and Help for Your Nerves. With many years under her belt working to assist her patients with their anxiety, Dr. Weekes provides the reader with her wealth of information on what anxiety is, why it’s happening, and techniques that anyone can apply to overcome it to considerably improve their quality of life.
In Black Women’s Mental Health, a special perspective on the subject of how black women are affected by issues such as mental health and the policies that are set in place is proposed through a compilation of different professionals in various fields. This book aims to deliver solutions to the problems that too many black women face when it comes to taking care of their health, while creating a discussion that works toward bringing an end to unreasonable stereotypes and expectations.
The Color of Hope is a profound book that highlights the stories of different individuals of color that have been impacted by mental illness. This book offers exceptional insight from people that come from all walks of life and their experiences with mental health-related concerns. The Color of Hope helps cultivate a conversation about various mental illnesses – both from personal experiences and from those that have faced these matters through people in their lives.
Many go a lifetime without unpacking any trauma that they have experienced over the years, and in The Body Keeps the Score, Dr. van der Kolk skillfully breaks down the ways in which this takes a toll on the overall health as time progresses. The brain and body can be noticeably affected and compromised after dealing with trauma, and Dr. van der Kolk explains the science behind all of this, as well as various techniques that can help to transmute this trauma and help the reader recover and gain their quality of life back.
Something that is not talked about as often in the realm of mental health is how to process and handle the circumstance of having a loved one suffer with mental illness and dealing with it firsthand. In #Driven, Corey Minor Smith does exactly that through her own accounts of growing up with a mentally ill parent. Smith encountered a number of unfortunate situations in her life that would easily bring even the strongest of individuals down, but in #Driven, she offers a message of utter inspiration, motivation, and encouragement to never let go of your wildest dreams.
In Healing Racial Trauma, Sheila Wise Rowe relays her own anecdotes surrounding deliberate racism and the unavoidable effect that this has on the body and mind. There are various accounts in the form of interviews from others that have been directly affected by racism and the subsequent trauma in the book, and Rowe has a distinct and extraordinary way of getting her message across and contributing a foundation of support to her readers.
Terrie M. Williams vulnerably tells her story of her struggles with depression in Black Pain, and also how it can be extremely and especially difficult for women of color to identify any struggles they are having with their mental health. Williams effectively explains how common coping mechanisms or addictions may in fact be symptoms of a deeper issue like depression, as well as how to implement different strategies into the lifestyle to start the healing process.
The majority of us have experienced burnout in our lives at one point or another, especially during the school years or when we are stuck in a job that is unfulfilling and overworking us. Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle talks about how women are disproportionately affected by burnout while also presenting scientifically backed methods for preventing burnout and instead living a much more productive, yet relaxed and stress-free, life.
Something that is so crucial and necessary to provide are accessible and useful resources for our black youth that are navigating a world that has unfairly worked to hold them back for far too long. In The State of Black Girls, a collection of different personal assessments as well as assorted activities are included to help our youth acquire a healthy mindset that is set up for success. The book also contains different coping mechanisms, self-care tips, and other methods to help nurture the mental health in this crucial time.
In I’m Telling the Truth, But I’m Lying, Ikpi relays her story of living with bipolar II and anxiety as a Nigerian-American immigrant. Ikpi acquired honorable success in her professional life as a poet, but her mental health caught up with her in due time and ended up uncovering aspects of her inner world that she was not priorly aware of. This memoir uncovers how our mental health is connected to all other facets of our being, and how the stories we hold to be true about ourselves may possibly be lies.
US Mental Health Resources
Everyone needs to have access to the appropriate mental health resources, because you never truly know when you or someone you know might be in need. The following are some of the most established and available mental health resources that are offered in the US:
Additional valuable resources:
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