Mental Health Resource Guide

Updated: Oct 31, 2021

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: The Black Woman’s Guide to Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety, Panic, and Fear – Angela Neal-Barnett, PhD

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.

Willow Weep for Me – Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

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: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies – Resemaa Menakem, MSW

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.

The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health – Rheeda Walker, PhD

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.