A lot of people have had mental health struggles lately — but numerous studies have found that Black women in particular have been greatly (if not one of the most) affected groups. This could possibly account for the recent wave of Black-owned wellness spaces over the past few years. These communities, both virtual and in-person, offer everything from mental health resources to exercise clubs and wellness studios — all in the name of uniting the Black community and offering a space for interaction and support.
Therapist Keischa Pruden, a licensed clinical mental health counselor supervisor and the owner of Pruden Counseling Concepts, says although African-American women are among the most educated and entrepreneurial group of people in the United States — women earned 62.3% of all doctorates awarded to African Americans in 2020 — they also experience many struggles when it comes to mental health. “Overall, they have higher rates of biopsychosocial challenges (heart disease, anxiety, depression, etc.) compared to their white counterparts,” Pruden tells TZR in an email. “Blacks and other minorities have a higher risk of heart failure than whites, with the highest risk in Black women. And, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Black women are at least twice as likely to experience an episode of major depression as men. Compared to their Caucasian counterparts, African-American women are only half as likely to seek help.”
Similarly, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Black adults were found to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness more so than white adults — and only 30% of Black adults who needed mental health care in 2017 received it. “All these dynamics have created a need for safe places for Black women, places where biopsychosocial wellness is encouraged and accepted,” says Pruden. “I am acutely aware of how every experience we have affects all aspects of our lives and am a firm believer in whole wellness and pursuing it in everyday life.”
From therapy resources to fitness clubs, ahead, the Black-owned wellness spaces offering a safe haven and place for community.
GirlTrek’s mission is to inspire Black women and girls to develop a daily habit of walking — women can organize walking teams and participate in community events. In fact, the organization states that it’s the largest public health nonprofit for Black women and girls in the U.S., with 1 million members (and counting!). “Since African-American women suffer disproportionately from heart disease and other related illnesses, GirlTrek is working to change the narrative through community fitness,” says Pruden.
Many mindfulness teachers and therapists promote breathing techniques to help quell anxiety — which is what Black Girls Breathing is all about, too. “Black Girls Breathing is an important space, as our work focuses specifically on healing and addressing trauma’s impact on the body via breathwork,” CEO and Founder Jasmine Marie tells TZR in an email. “Our mission to scale our impact to 1 million Black women and girls by 2025 is impactful in that our work is accessible; and we’re envisioning the effect that our community having the tools to heal can impact.”
She also shares why the community aspect is so crucial in healing — individually, yet together. “Black people have always found healing in gathering,” she says. “We focus on creating a community that feels warm, relatable, and supportive. The community nature of our work strips down many misconceptions around managing one’s mental health, such as feeling like they’re the only one dealing with certain issues and the hesitancy in general to talk about how various struggles specifically experienced by our community are having an effect on their mental health.”
Therapy for Black Girls is an online space promoting mental wellness of Black women and girls. It aims to lessen the stigma around mental health and encourages seeking help through therapy. “Therapy for Black Girls offers so much for African-American women: assurance that it is definitely OK to seek mental health services, an actual therapist directory (with clinicians of color), and Sister Circle, an online social community,” says Pruden. With Sister Circle, for instance, some of the perks include getting access to a support network wherein you can connect with members in your area, reminding you that you’re not alone in your mental health journey.
If you’re looking for a Black-owned business that’s a boutique home goods and lifestyle store all about self-care and wellness, RITUALS + CEREMONY is for you. You can either drop by the brick-and-mortar location in Crown Heights, Brooklyn or shop online. Whether you’re looking for candles, artisanal soap, or crystals (among many other offerings) to spruce up your wellness space, it’s a can’t-miss.
Transparent & Black is a wellness collective aimed to help Black women heal from intergenerational trauma. It was founded by Yasmine Jameelah in 2018 and hosts various virtual community events, including yoga, breathwork, and meditation, as well as check-ins with therapists. “Community is everything to Black people as a culture,” she tells TZR in an email. “We’re raised in community, and affirmed by our communities, so naturally our healing spaces (@transparentblackgirl and @transparentblackguy) are centered in that spirit and desire to help each other. Black people deserve accessible wellness studios created for — and by — Black people where they’re the priority; spaces that prioritize our healing and center the need to address intergenerational trauma.”
If someone is new to seeking out help, Jameelah suggests they first find a safe space. “Whether that be a trauma-informed therapist, a wellness community, spirituality, a life coach, or friends who can support you, these past few years have been difficult for all of us,” she says. “Healing is a journey and it doesn’t always go as planned, but that’s the beauty in it. Be patient with yourself as you explore self-work.”
Nedra Tawab is a world-renowned therapist, author, and public speaker — and her passion is setting boundaries and healthy relationships, Pruden explains. “She also has a weekly newsletter, ‘Nedra Nuggets,’ that helps the reader gain emotional stability and learn how to set appropriate boundaries in all areas of life.
For some fitness inspo, check out Fly Girl Collective, which focuses on running, wellness, and fitness all in one. You can sign up for challenges and events or just check out their newsletter for added motivation. “Beyond popular belief, Black and brown women do not wear capes,” their website states. “Living up to the strong Black woman stereotype, in particular, can be harmful to our mental health — along with the stress of dealing with the constant realities of racism, discrimination and economic equalities.” So if you want some help with your self-care and wellness journey, Fly Girl Collective could be the perfect solution.
Ethel’s Club is a social and wellness organization whose mission is to create healing spaces for people of color. They host both virtual wellness classes, as well as in-person events — and you just sign up on their website. What started as an Instagram page blew up into an in-person space in Brooklyn in 2019 and now has 144k Instagram followers. Whether you’re looking for group meditations, want to connect with a therapist, or participate in one of their other offerings, like book clubs, there’s something for everyone, both online and off.
If you’re looking for a community wellness space that’s both in-person and online, check out HealHaus in Brooklyn. You can sign up for the unlimited number of yoga and meditation classes, as well as other wellness workshops, and stop by in person for either a wellness practice, like a reiki sound bath or tarot card reading, or to chill out in their café for a plant-based elixir or smoothie.
‘This too shall pass away’ this famous Persian adage seems to be defeating us again and again in the case of COVID-19. Despite every effort