Mental health is the next frontier of diversity and inclusion within organizations. Black Americans are no different when it comes to the prevalence of mental health conditions when compared to the rest of the population. According to the Office of Minority Health, Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.
This Mind Share Partners interview seeks to explore and uncover unique experiences and barriers to workplace mental health in the Black American community. Mind Share Partners came across Imade Nibokun Borha, an award-winning writer, journalist, and founder of an online movement called “Depressed While Black” where she shares her personal mental health journey in an effort to combat the stigma surrounding depression and other mental health conditions in the black community.
Mind Share Partners sat down with Imade to talk about how the workplace specifically affects Black American mental health. The interview also dove into the unique stigma experienced within the community and distinctive actions and perspectives businesses can take to support Black American mental health.
Mind Share Partners: You launched a movement called “Depressed While Black” where you share a lot of your own mental health experiences. What does “depressed while black” mean?
Imade: “This movement began as my creative thesis in school. It was for my non-fiction writing MFA and we had to create a thesis in 2013. I didn’t think I had anything to write about. In the black community, it’s common not to have a father and be raised in a single-parent household. I didn’t think I was going through anything important.
I thought about how I was diagnosed with major depressive order back in 2012, where I was speeding on a Los Angelos highway wanting to die. I thought maybe this was something I should write about and started with the MFA pieces, which has now evolved into an in-progress book and an online community. I wanted to put my experiences out there because I didn’t know anyone else who was black and dealing with depression. It was a way for me to both find my community and ask for help. Talking about my experiences is the reason why I’m alive. For someone like me who has chronic suicidal thoughts and impulsive actions, if I’m not talking about what I’m going through I am dead. Depressed While Black is definitely an act of survival.”
Mind Share Partners: Does being in an underrepresented minority in the workforce exacerbate mental health conditions?
Imade: “Absolutely. Most of the challenge around my own mental health has been unemployment and the difficulty of filing unemployment which causes financial struggles—including the inability to have a wellness team like a therapist or psychiatrist. For the black community and other minorities, we have a higher unemployment rate and are unable to have health insurance to allow us to receive mental health treatment.
It’s a challenge when you are a young, black journalist. I was thrown into a majority white environment and was the only black person in my newsroom. So many news pieces are going on about black folks and police brutality, and all I saw on the cover of my own magazine were black people with mugshots.”
Read more or listen to the interview on ThriveGlobal.com.