May is Mental Health Awareness Month. It was started to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding behavioral health issues, as well as highlighting the ways how mental illness and addiction can affect all of us. While this is certainly an issue that affects all races, studies have found that only 25% of Black people seek mental health treatment when needed, compared to 40% of white people.

As we continue to prioritize mental wellness in our communities, EBONY has curated this comprehensive guide featuring expert tips, resources and more.

We will continue to add to this guide.

Free mental health and suicide prevention hotlines

If you or someone you know ever experience a mental health crisis, have thoughts of suicide, these hotlines are always staffed with trained professionals ready to help you. After all, your life matters and we need you here.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
  • Veterans Crisis Line – 1-800-273-8255, press 1
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Help Line – 1-800-950-6264 or Text 62640
  • National Mental Health Hotline: 866-903-3787

Signs and symptoms of mental anguish

While this is not an exhaustive life, it does encompass many of the common signs of depression and/or mental anguish. If you notice them within yourself or someone close, consider talking to a friend or professional to receive the help you need and deserve.

Symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

  • feelings of deep sadness
  • Disorganized thinking and/or reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive levels of fear and/or worry
  • Extreme mood shifts and/or inappropriate behavior
  • Withdrawal from activities
  • Significant tiredness, low energy, or problems sleeping

Black-led mental wellness organizations

There's no better feeling than finding your tribe and/or community. These Black-led organizations are a great place to start when seeking a healthier mind.

  • The Black Mental Health Alliance: Through programming, services, and forums, the Black Mental Health Alliance is committed to creating a society that is safe and compassionate. They believe this can be done by encouraging Black communities and families to work toward living their very best lives.
  • Transparent & Black: Founded by Yasmine Jameelah, Transparent & Black is a collective that houses franchises invested in the wellness of the Black community. They create spaces to not only focus on healing but shift generational impacts of trauma and neglect of mental health.
  • Loveland Foundation: With a focus on Black women and girls, the Loveland Foundation created a fund that provides economic assistance for those who are faced with barriers when seeking out therapy. Since Rachel Cargle launched the foundation in 2018, they have participated in intentional partnerships with organizations such as the National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network and Therapy for Black Girls.
  • Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation: Launched by Taraji P. Henson in her father's honor, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation seeks to eradicate the experience of Black folks who go through life without the proper access to resources for their mental health. They recently partnered with Kate Spade to bring such resources to HBCU campuses.
  • Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM): More than a non-profit, BEAM is a movement dedicated to shifting the way Black people experience mental health care through a healing justice framework. This mission is achieved through efforts connected to education, training, advocacy, and the creative arts.

Expert tips for protecting your mental wellness at work & home

Our careers can be demanding, especially as we seek to work our way up. While reaching new heights at work is certainly commendable, ensuring you're operating as your best self each day is the real key. Check out these 3 tips from Patrice Ford Lyn to protect your mental wellness at work and at home.

Set and maintain boundaries: Both setting and maintaining boundaries can be difficult. It helps to have an accountability partner—a family member, friend or colleague. Check in with them on the boundary you said you wanted to set and maintain it.

Don't believe everything you think: "Our minds are hard-wired to look for danger, resulting in a negativity bias. So when you have a troubling thought, check in with yourself and others to see if there is evidence to support or refute the thought," advises the veteran executive coach.

Honor when your mental health needs rest and rejuvenation: "If you imagine your body is a car, parking means it gets rest. However, taking it to the gas station is how it gets rejuvenated. Listen to what your body needs so that you can give it the resources it requires," shares Ford Lyn.

Daily practices for mental wellness

By incorporating these tools into your daily routine, you can help keep your mind happy and healthy.

  • Meditation
  • Hydration
  • Good sleep and hygiene
  • Consistent exercise
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Limit mindless screen activity
  • Cultivate empowered family communication