From the coronavirus pandemic's disproportionate impact on people of colour to the events of June 2020—which saw the senseless killing of George Floyd propel protests against police brutality across the US —the past few years have been a devastating and vulnerable time for the Black community across the world. Even before the virus and the everyday acts of racial injustice, the fact was, and remains, that Black people are more likely to experience serious psychological distress and are more likely to experience socioeconomic disparities that contribute to worse mental-health outcomes. Addressing this critical issue, many Black individuals and platforms continue to foster community and provide resources to those suffering mentally.
“Our bodies are really the arbiters of safety, and when we’re not safe in the world, being honoured in our humanity, or if our basic human needs aren’t being met, then we start to break down—spiritually, emotionally, physically,” explains Latham Thomas, doula and founder of wellness platform Mama Glow. “The only pathway to move forward and stay strong is to be gentle with yourself and become acquainted with your vulnerabilities. For us to be able to do this work constantly and show up, we have to take care of ourselves, and how we do that is so hinged on us being able to have access and tools for self-care.”
In addition to educating and empowering the Black community on maternal health and birth equity, Thomas shares tools of consciousness, such as yoga and mediation, to help individuals cope with pain and stress. In the same spirit, meditation expert Light Watkins demonstrates how harnessing the power of mindfulness can be beneficial in fighting against and dealing with the emotional trauma of racial discrimination. Whether it leads to participating in a guided meditation session or a cathartic forum, Watkins believes social media is a robust resource.
“The overarching, overall objective is to connect, to be heard and be seen,” says Watkins of utilizing social media as a tool for connection. “The great thing about all of the different platforms that we have today is that there’s a tool that usually fits everyone who wants to be able to access their full potential in whatever way. We need our full mental faculties so that we can continue speaking, fighting, and protesting authentically.” In honour of Black History Month (in the US), here are 17 Instagram accounts that work to provide mental-health and self-care support for the Black community.
Black Girl In Om/ @blackgirlinom
Founded by Lauren Ash, Black Girl In Om is a global platform that provides a “space for women of color to breathe easy,” offering holistic wellness workshops largely based in journaling, mind-clearing meditation, and body-restoring yoga. During the pandemic, Ash launched The Circle, a digital initiative that provides members with journaling prompts, thought exercises, and guided meditations to further support the global community of Black women and women of colour.
Dive In Well / @diveinwell
Addressing the deep need for more diversity in the wellness industry, platform Dive In Well was relaunched and expanded by founder Maryam Ajayi, an entrepreneur and energy healer, to offer more digital workshops, workbooks, and consulting in an effort to bolster both individuals and businesses to support inclusivity.
Black Mental Health Alliance / @black_minds_matter_
The Black Mental Health Alliance is a community-based membership organization designed to develop and sponsor education programs and services to support mental health and well-being within the Black community. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, BMHA has been offering engaging online discussions, from discussing the strengths and vulnerabilities of the Black community to help navigating the economic crisis.
Therapy for Black Girls / @therapyforblackgirls
Founded by psychologist Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, Therapy for Black Girls works to destigmatize mental-health issues and make resources, such as in-office and virtual therapy, Q&A sessions with experts, and deep dives on relevant topics, more accessible for Black women.
The Nap Ministry / @thenapministry
Founded in 2016 by poet and performance artist Tricia Hersey, The Nap Ministry examines the liberating power of rest, underlining sleep deprivation as a racial and social issue. On Instagram, Hersey offers strategies for more restorative rest, education around Black liberation, and tools such as her grief and healing Spotify playlist.
HealHaus / @healhaus
Bedford-Stuyvesant-based HealHaus was born out of a need for a wellness space that “allows people to come as they are without any judgements or expectations,” explains Elisa Shankle, who cofounded the organization alongside Darian Hall. Pivoting many of their offerings digitally in the time of social distancing, HealHaus has been offering healing workshops, as well as donation-based yoga, meditation, and healing sessions.
The Loveland Foundation / @thelovelandfoundation
Founded by activist Rachel Cargle, the Loveland Foundation provides financial assistance to Black women and girls seeking therapy for healing and well-being. In addition to building community by hosting dynamic talks, the platform’s Instagram account has become a favorite for inspiring and informational graphics that promote self-care and mental-health support.
Latham Thomas / @glowmaven
Latham Thomas is a doula, author, and founder of Mama Glow who has made it her mission to bridge the gap between wellness, spiritual growth, and radical self-care—and her Instagram is a reflection of just that. In addition to being a source of support and information for expectant Black mothers, who are at higher risk of experiencing poor maternal-health outcomes, Thomas offers aid in restorative ritual practices such as meditation, as well as webinars for doulas and parents.
Rest for Resistance / @qtpocmentalhealth
Rest for Resistance is a grassroots, trans-led organization uplifting LGBTQIA+ individuals, namely trans and queer people of colour. As a platform, it fosters a safe online space that promotes meditation as an act of resistance, and features art, writing, and a directory of intersectional mental-health resources.
Sista Afya / @sistaafya
Bringing together Black women across the African diaspora, Sista Afya is a platform founded by social worker Camesha Jones that focuses on sustaining mental wellness through building community, sharing information, and providing access to quality, low-cost mental wellness services. One of Sista Afya’s most popular series is the Sister Support Group, which promotes friendship and sisterhood as vehicles for life-changing mental-health support.
Ethel’s Club / @ethelsclub
When Williamsburg social and wellness hub Ethel’s Club had to close its brick-and-mortar location amid the pandemic, founder Naj Austin transitioned the community online, where the organization has been offering free online gatherings, performances, and healing sessions.
Light Watkins / @lightwatkins
In times of unrest, working through anger, grief, and frustration is that much more emotionally taxing. Answering the collective longing for guidance on how to employ mindfulness as a tool, meditation expert Light Watkins has been sharing videos talking through coping with COVID-19 and confronting racism.
Count to Ten Podcast / @counttotenpodcast
Artist, content creator, and motivational speaker Bri Hall, who has amassed over 1 million followers across her social platforms, recently unveiled her "Count to Ten" podcast, which tackles and brings nuance to complex issues around social and racial injustices, gender or identity inequality, and mental health. Hall's debut episode hones in on appearance-based discrimination and The CROWN Act with guest Keziah Dhamma (aka Swirly Curly).
Black Mamas Matter Alliance / @blackmamasmatter
This Black women-led alliance works to advocate, drive research, build power, and shift culture for Black maternal health, rights, and justice. Black Mamas Matter Alliance shares vital health information, hosts in-depth Instagram Live discussions around maternal health inequities, and shares resources for advancing Black maternal health through policy.
Exhale App / @exhaleapp
Exhale App is the first emotional well-being app designed for Black women and women of color by BIWOC. It’s received high accolades including the 2021 MIT Solution in Antiracist Tech award, which honors communities of color using technology to advance racial equity and access economic opportunity, health, and safety. On Instagram, the platform offers inspiring quotes, fruitful graphics, and powerful words from its founder Katara McCarty to aid users on their journey to better emotional health.
Health in Her Hue / @healthinherhue
Health in Her Hue is a digital platform designed to bridge the gap between Black women and culturally sensitive healthcare providers, health content, and community. In tandem with this mission, the organization hosts virtual Care Squad sessions, which marry peer support and clinical expertise to provide information and support on a host of topics, and also shares monthly Listen Lists on Instagram featuring must-listen music and podcasts.
Shine founders Marah Lidey and Naomi Hirabayashi—who are Black and half-Japanese, respectively—didn't see themselves represented in mainstream wellness and decided to create a solution. The Shine app is daily self-care tool designed to make taking care of your mental health easier, more representative, and more accessible. On Instagram, the platform shares an inspiring array of graphics to keep you staying mindful, setting boundaries, and practicing gratitude.
This article was originally published on Vogue US.