Black Mental Health Matters
Good mental health support is a necessity more now than ever, and yet these resources are unavailable for many. For many Black Americans, mental health support can be inaccessible as there is the additional difficulty of finding mental health professionals who personally face the struggles with being non-white in America—only 6.2% of psychologists and 21.3% of psychiatrists are members of a minority group. This adds to the other challenges faced by Blacks and people of color in finding help, such as community stigma and lack of health care coverage.
After struggling with her own depression this past summer, Katie Stewart from Richmond, Virginia thought a lot about this disparity. She says, “I started to feel horrible, like I wasn’t doing enough, or really anything at all to help those around me who are Black, particularly those who have mental health issues…. I feel like I look at life differently now and those around me, and feel the need to do more, and I want to continue on a daily basis to push myself to do more and be a strong base of support for those who are struggling.”
She decided to try to find a way to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and the Black Mental Health Alliance. “I decided to not only create this fundraiser but choreograph a dance to a meaningful song, which I hoped would bring notice to these specific issues and also get more traction/attention for the fundraiser. “
With the creation of the t-shirt fundraiser, Katie wanted to make sure that the shirt was designed to make an impact and raise awareness. “I created the design based off other imagery I had seen that inspired me. There was a shirt I loved that looked exactly the same as mine on the front except it said ‘Nothing Changes’. I liked the aggressive writing look and how it really grabs your eye. “ In addition to drawing attention, it was important for the custom shirt to encourage others to do their part in teaching themselves about racism in our country. “The back is a list of names that I took from an image as well that came out around the time George Floyd was murdered, and I added a link to the NAACP because I feel it’s a good website with a good source of information to educate people.” Through Custom Ink’s Fundraising platform, she was able to sell custom t-shirts, hoodies, and tank tops with her design to raise money and awareness for the Black Mental Health Alliance.
With the Black Mental Health Alliance as the beneficiary for the fundraiser, Katie’s efforts would be able to directly address the challenge of providing good mental healthcare in the Black community. Working from Baltimore, Maryland, the Alliance serves “to develop, promote and sponsor trusted culturally-relevant educational forums, trainings and referral services that support the health and well-being of Black people and vulnerable communities.”
The Alliance helps Black clinicians and medical professionals connect with potential patients and provides them with educational support. It serves the greater community through workshops, forums, and directly provides after-school programs, school-based mental health services, HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives, and more to individuals. The Alliance’s programs encompass topics such as structural racism, mental health stigma, and historical and race-based trauma. Through all this, the Alliance strives for “the creation of an equitable, respectful and compassionate society, [and] the development of Black communities in which optimal mental health enables children, youth, adults, and families to strive for and embrace their best life.”
With Custom Ink’s Fundraising platform, Katie was able to provide information about the Black Mental Health Alliance and link back to it to raise awareness around the organization’s work. She could also engage with donors through the comments and even posted a video of the dance choreography she created to garner more attention for the fundraiser. The cause resonated with many, and their donations and sales from the t-shirt all went to the Black Mental Health Alliance.
The money raised for the cause was important, but it was just as powerful seeing the community support. “I’ve learned that there are a lot of people who can relate or connect to what you’re raising money for whether you thought so or not. So many people out there want to help and be part of the good in the world and that creates hope for me,” says Katie.
You can find out more about the Black Mental Health Alliance on their website, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook pages.