Why Black Men Face Greater Mental Health Challenges

A Black man bathed in red light

The emotional stoicism of Black men is something that few authors have talked about. Most notable of the few books on the topic, the author bell hooks’ work We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity discusses the lack of love and acceptance that Black men face, creating an emotional crisis.

Many men have not been told how to process and talk about their emotional experiences, furthering a sense of isolation, anger, and resentment. For these men, this creates an emotional volatility that can sometimes manifest in seeming “shut down” in relationships and friendships. At its worst, this budding resentment can manifest in outward expression of anger, aggression, and even violence. This is discussed further in Charlie Donaldson’s and Randy Flood’s book Mascupathy: Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood.

Many men (arguably most) struggle with the idea of being openly vulnerable and sharing their emotions. And for those who grew up as sensitive boys, they are often subject to ridicule and shaming for what are natural and healthy expressions of emotion. Black men face a unique challenge in that most of what is most prized about them may be their looks or bodies, but rarely ever their intellect and emotional intelligence. These things are often deemed too soft for any Black man to experience, delivering the message that if you are those things then you must change…and fast.

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How Marginalized People Can Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Woman at coffee shop with laptop

Studies show it, anecdotes illustrate it, and entire movements are built around it: When it comes to professional and even personal success, historically marginalized people — women, racial minorities, sexual minorities, people with disabilities, and others — are judged negatively for their strengths.

Whether it’s women being punished for academic success or people of color being judged less competent than their less-qualified white peers, discrimination continues to hamper us, from the classroom to the boardroom.

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International Women’s Day: Speaking Out Beyond #MeToo

Silhouette of sexist man and woman

Originally, I was asked to write this piece about a time I felt empowered as a woman. All day I sat with the prompt, but nothing came to me. How sad is that?

Over the next couple of days, I asked a few of my female friends if they could think of a time they felt empowered. They couldn’t think of a specific time, either. I felt sad for them. I felt sad for myself.

Of course, all these other thoughts came flooding into my mind — about all the times I felt like my power was threatened as a woman (e.g. most of the time). All the times I’ve been in situations that made me feel like a piece of meat — something to look at and touch, but not a human to be communicated with, respected or honored.

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How Does Acquiring a New Disability Affect Mental Health?

Man on crutches

“I don’t have the life I expected to have,” says Shayla Maas, a disabled woman who was an adolescent psychiatric nurse before her Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome progressed to a point that made it difficult to work. When a series of injuries then left her transitioning to light duty and eventually forced her out of the workplace, it was a total sea change.

According to the U.S. Census, nearly 20 percent of Americans are disabled. Some have congenital disabilities they’ve lived with their whole lives. Others have faced traumatic accidents, diagnoses of chronic conditions, and other life changes — sometimes at the height of a busy career, or while pursuing dreams with tremendous physical demands. A newly-acquired disability — or the diagnosis of a previously unidentified chronic condition — represents a tremendous life change, one that can be very isolating.

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Male Survivors of Sexual Assault Face Unique Challenges to Recovery

Athletic man resting after a run outside

According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in six U.S. men have experienced sexual violence, and 17% of those men develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In my years practicing therapy, I’ve found male survivors face unique challenges to recovery, yet hesitate to get the help they need.

The question is why.

For one, we don’t hear much about male sexual assault survivors, although one study found sexual assault history was common among both women and men, reported by 25% of women and 16% of men surveyed. The research participants also faced similar long-term problems, regardless of gender.

Continue reading Male Survivors of Sexual Assault Face Unique Challenges to Recovery

How Men Can Confront Toxic Masculinity (+ Why It’s Important for Mental Health)

Hip young man feeling frustrated and alone

With the #MeToo movement dominating the headlines over the past few months, many of us have had to ask tough questions about our own experiences of gender, power, and relationships. While women have taken the forefront of the movement, it’s also been a moment of reckoning for men.

The movement has not only provided an opportunity to confront more obvious acts of violence, but also how gender roles influence the way we treat one another in our own lives and relationships. This means confronting the role of toxic masculinity in our lives and relationships.

Continue reading How Men Can Confront Toxic Masculinity (+ Why It’s Important for Mental Health)

As Workplaces Discuss Sexual Harassment Prevention, Are They Neglecting Treatment?

female therapist holding folder comforting woman client

As Workplaces Discuss Sexual Harassment Prevention, Are They Neglecting Treatment?” originally appeared on Fairygodboss, an online career community for women, by women. 

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, workplaces across the country are discussing how to prevent sexual harassment and penalize guilty employees. But, like all national issues, it’s important to not only consider prevention, but also treatment for those already affected.

New research published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology warns that sexual harassment at work is a “chronic problem” for women in the workplace — one that can cause lasting mental illness. Continue reading As Workplaces Discuss Sexual Harassment Prevention, Are They Neglecting Treatment?

How Mental Health Activists Are Fighting Racism

black woman asian man coordinating activism efforts on table

During the Civil Rights Movement, white psychologists invented a so-called mental illness. Dubbing it “protest psychosis,” these psychologists used the racially-motivated “syndrome” to explain away the reasonable rage of black Americans demanding an end to segregation.

Sixty years later, racial disparities in the mental health care system remain, including lack of access to mental health services for communities of color, inadequate addressal of the real psychological trauma caused by racism, and racially-motivated diagnoses like the now-scrapped “protest psychosis.”

But that doesn’t have to be the case. Increasingly, anti-racist advocates in the mental health community are encouraging us all to recognize mental health as a racial justice issue. Continue reading How Mental Health Activists Are Fighting Racism

How Much Effort Do Women Put Into Coping With Sexual Harassment in a Day?

women at work uncomfortable with male co-worker touching her on arm

It’s that knot of anxiety in the pit of your stomach when you walk down the street. You step off the train, your bag in front of your breasts, flinching lest the next passerby brush you “accidentally-on-purpose.”

It’s never knowing whether your boss is leaning just a little too close.

It’s turning the music up loud so you don’t hear the catcallers, or turning down an invitation to a work outing because the coworker who’s going has a reputation for getting handsy when he’s drunk. Continue reading How Much Effort Do Women Put Into Coping With Sexual Harassment in a Day?

An Open Letter To My Catcallers On My Way To Work

street harassment mural brooklyn

An Open Letter to My Catcallers On My Way to Work” originally appeared on Fairygodboss, an online career community for women, by women.

Dear Catcallers On My Way to Work This Morning,

Like a stray hair that slinks down the skin of my back, I can feel your eyes. Like the Spanx under my skirt you strip away with your mind, your words suffocate me.

On my way to the office, I saunter through Manhattan’s Herald Square. It’s crawling with wide-eyed tourists, to whom you’re supposed to be passing flyers and ushering onto double-decker buses. You call me an, ahem, part of the female anatomy because I won’t smile for you. I grip my keys between my knuckles, and I flash you the finger. Continue reading An Open Letter To My Catcallers On My Way To Work