In recognition of Black History Month, The Guidance Center wishes to acknowledge leaders who serve as catalysts for mental health awareness, and the need for improved culturally competent care, while acknowledging that historically, communities of color, including children, experience unique and challenging barriers in accessing mental health care services.
Terrie M. Williams
Terrie M. Williams is an author, inspirational speaker, former clinical social worker, and mental health advocate, who raises awareness of mental health issues, highlighting those specific to black communities. In her book Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting, she examines the role of unaddressed mental illness in African American families by sharing her own struggles and journey. You can hear her speak about this book here.
While he may be best known for his professional football career with the New York Jets, Brandon Marshall also started his own Mental Health Advocacy Non-Profit Organization, after he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in 2011. The organization is Project 375, which aims to increase awareness of mental health issues, raise funds for various mental health programs, and eradicate the stigmas that surround mental health.
An esteemed and celebrated poet, writer, and Civil Rights activist, Maya Angelou’s words have opened up and continue to open up discussions on traumatic experiences endured by African Americans throughout history. Some of her most notable works are I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Still I Rise. You can hear her read the powerful words of Still I Rise here.
There have been many motivational words of resilience spoken by Dr. Maya Angelou, but this is one of our favorites that still rings true today, and can apply to many of our clients’ journey through therapy:
“History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again”
Toni Morrison is a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and Nobel laureate, editor, and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University, who also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 from Barack Obama. In some of her most renowned works, including Beloved, Sula, King of Solomon, and The Bluest Eye, Morrison depicts the experience of Black America through richly-expressive descriptions, highlighting the implications of traumas and mental health issues that can arise. Morrison continues to be a vocal advocate for the unique struggles that Black Americans face and the toll that it takes on one’s mental health.
Richard L. Taylor Jr.
An inspirational author, speaker, and mental health leader and advocate, Richard L. Taylor Jr. continuously creates conversation surrounding mental health as he shares his powerfully transparent stories growing up as a young black man from Chicago who struggled with suicide. He has written several books, including Unashamed: The Process of Reconstruction, and most recently, Love Between my Scars. You can read an interview here in which Mr. Taylor touches on his grapples with mental health and his academic success.
Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis
Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis is a licensed psychologist, ordained minister, associate professor at Pepperdine University, and former president of the Society for the Psychology of Women. She has worked nationally and globally to provide relief and empowerment to marginalized persons, with an emphasis on trauma, depression, anxiety, and oppression. The Guidance Center has been fortuitous enough to have had Dr. Bryant-Davis give a compelling presentation on the importance of clinicians attending to cultural influences on trauma recovery. To learn more about the work of Dr. Bryant-Davis, you can visit her website here.
At The Guidance Center, we believe everyone deserves the right to access mental health care and deserves healing. For more information including statistics, unique issues, and resources, please visit The National Alliance on Mental Illness’ page on African American Mental Health.