How the StrongBlackWoman impacts black girls' access to mental health services

In the twenty-first century, adolescent mental health is frequently discussed in the media and within educational institutions. The increase in the number of school shootings, bullying incidents and escalation of suicide rates have brought mental health awareness to the forefront. There has been a cooperative effort from educators, social workers, and healthcare professionals to make mental health resources available for all students. However, the accessibility and types of resources available are inequitable. I argue, that the StrongBlackWoman trope creates challenges for black girls and women in accessing mental health services.

To begin, I want to define the term StrongBlackWoman which I first read about in the book Black Women’s Mental Health: Balancing Strength and Vulnerability by Stephanie Y. Evans, Kanika Bell and Nsenga K. Burton. In the chapter “When the Bough Breaks: The StrongBlackWoman and the Embodiment of Stress” author Chanequa Walker-Barnes uses research from black feminists before her to define what the StrongBlackWoman is. Specifically, she describes the StrongBlackWoman as “a totalitarian and culturally prescriptive identity characterized by three core features: emotional strength/regulation, caregiving, and independence” (Evans et. al 44). I will be using this definition of a StrongBlackWoman because of the significance in the omission of spacing between the words and its recognition of key characteristics black women practice.

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