Amplifying Black Voices in Mental Health

February 11, 2021

Black voices matter. Representation matters. The most recent Eugene Therapy blog post highlighted the disparities and many barriers that Black individuals face when it comes to receiving quality mental health services and support. As part of Black History Month, we want to recognize Black voices in mental health. These individuals are breaking stigmas and creating positive change in this field.

Influential Black Mental Health Figures

First, we would like to recognize and celebrate some influential historical Black figures in the mental health field:

Francis Cecil Sumner, Ph.D.

Dr. Sumner was the first Black American to receive a Ph.D. in Psychology. He helped establish the psychology department at Howard University. Sumner completed a vast amount of research to help counteract racism and bias in psychological studies of Black Americans.

Inez Beverly Prosser, Ph.D.

Dr. Prosser was the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in psychology in 1933. She inspired other Black women to believe they too could become doctors in the field of psychology.

Mamie Phipps Clark, Ph.D.

Psychologist Mamie Phipps Clark’s work, along with her husband, Kenneth Bancroft Clark, Ph.D., allowed us to see how we internalize racism through her Clark Doll Study social experiment. The data she collected was critical in the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. It provided evidence of how segregation causes psychological damage to children.

Dr. Maxie Clarence Maultsby

Psychiatrist Maxie Clarence Maultsby Jr. founded the form of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy called Rational Behavior Therapy. This technique provides an effective strategy to identify and solve issues that affect emotional and physical behaviors.

These names are just a few of many influential Black individuals who made a difference mental health field. We want to honor these figures, because they are not traditionally recognized to the same degree as white figures in the mental health space. Black History Month is a great time to learn more about Black voices that have made a difference.

Black Mental Health Experts to Follow

In addition to recognizing influential Black mental health professionals in history, we also would like to shout out some incredible individuals making a difference today. We encourage you to check out their content and give them a follow on social media:

  • Therapy for Black Girls (@therapyforblackgirls): Dr. Joy Harden Bradford is a licensed psychologist, speaker and host of the mental health podcast, Therapy for Black Girls. In her podcast, she uses pop culture to illustrate psychological concepts. The Therapy for Black Girls Instagram is a space that presents mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant to Black women.
  • Nedra Glover Tawwab (@nedratawwab): Nedra is therapist, content creator, and author of the book, “Set Boundaries, Find Peace- A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself.” She is devoted to helping people create healthy relationships.
  • Dr. Jennifer Mullan (@decolonizingtherapy): Dr. Jennifer Mullan is a psychologist and trauma healer. She is creating a dialogue to address how mental health is deeply affected by systemic inequities and the trauma of oppression, especially for Queer Indigenous Black Brown People of Color (QIBPOC).
  • Dr. Mariel Buquè (@dr.marielburque): Lastly, Dr. Mariel Buquè is a holistic therapist and intergenerational trauma expert. Her work focuses on delivering healing and anti-racism lessons and workshops. She believes in the liberation of our minds and of oppressive systems as necessary qualities for our overall wellness.

Again, this list includes just a few of many wonderful Black mental health experts. We hope that this post inspires you to seek out more incredible Black individuals in the mental health space. These people do great work helping to make mental health resources more accessible. They’ve also helped break harmful stigma around the Black community and mental health. Let’s support them and celebrate them not just this month, but throughout the year.

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