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How Two Black Psychologists are Changing the Way We Talk About Mental Health

By January 27th, 2021No Comments
How Two Black Psychologists are Changing the Way We Talk About Mental Health
Photo Source: Youtube/Left to Right: Riana Anderson and Shawn C.T. Jones

For the past week you’ve been feeling a little hopeless.
Your sleep has been off.
You either eat too much or eat too little.
And to top it off, you don’t want to do anything or go anywhere with anyone.

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These are common symptoms of depression that are usually unrecognizable to people who’ve never been diagnosed by a professional or are not well informed about mental health issues. “Even though research shows that [black people] are not diagnosed often, we tend to have problems that last longer and are more intense,” states clinical psychologist, Shawn C.T. Jones.

In a series of mental health talks published on YouTube called, “Our Mental Health Minute”, Jones and fellow clinical psychologist, Riana Anderson, discuss various race-related social issues and mental health problems prevalent within the black community but rarely discussed – or even acknowledged. Some of the topics covered include: racial identity; racial socialization; coping; stress; and therapy.

Anderson and Jones are both postdoctoral fellows at the University of Pennsylvania where they both work with Dr. Howard Stevenson in the Racial Empowerment Collaborative (REC). Individually, the psychologists focus on different areas in their research such as “cultural pride” (Anderson) and “using applied research to promote racial literacy” (Jones), however they share the goal of reducing the negative “impacts of race-related stress”.

The purpose of the Our Mental Health Minute series is to increase mental health literacy within the black community while helping viewers understand how to recognize the signs of mental health problems like depression, anxiety, or PTSD. Anderson and Jones explain each problem in one minute, keeping viewers engaged while not bogging them down with too much information in a single video.

During their mental health minute on anxiety, Ria highlights significant statistics such as the fact that “anxiety is the most common psychological issue” and how “20 to 30 percent of all black adults actually experience it within their life.” In another video on therapy, Anderson and Jones share the different types of therapy available, such as therapy for kids, couples, individuals, or even families.

Anderson and Jones list three goals for their channel:
1) Reduce stigma about mental health in the Black community
2) Provide resources in access, utilization, and quality of mental health care
3) Increase mental health literacy (in a fun and relevant way!)

The most important aspect of Riana and Shawn’s work is that they are building a platform through which they can educate viewers on problems they may personally be experiencing, but are not able to identify or define. Even more, they want viewers to become comfortable with the idea of talking to someone, like a therapist, about what they’re going through.

Maybe you think that your feelings of hopelessness cannot be put into words.
You feel as though your inability to sleep well will eventually fade.
Your lack of appetite will soon enough subside.
That may be true!
But it never hurts to reach out to someone for support.
Someone, somewhere always cares about you. Even if you don’t know them.
You are not alone!

Check out Riana and Shawn’s YouTube channel here.

What challenges have you had with mental health? Why is mental health still a taboo thing in the Black community?
How Two Black Psychologists are Changing the Way We Talk About Mental Health

Ariel is a 23-year old SoCal native, working professional, and Alumna of the University of California, Berkeley. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and through her studies, acquired a passion for gaining knowledge that would improve the quality of her life and further allow her to interact with and touch people in a positive way. You can follow her own blog, The Freewoman Diaries, at

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