This year’s Black History Month celebrates the immeasurable contributions of African Americans to the arts. In every field of artistic expression, Black artists, creators, and performers have made a profound impact, shining a light on the culture, triumphs, and struggles of Black people throughout history and today. Their works move, uplift, and inspire. And they reinforce the need to do more to eliminate racial inequities and support Black mental health and well-being.
Black mental health disparities
When people experience repeated discrimination over time—microaggressions at work, bullying, or even violence, for example—they’re at higher risk for stress, anxiety, depression, and substance-use disorders throughout their lives. According to Calm research, anxiousness, stress, and depression are 15%–21% higher in Black youth than in the general youth population. Forty-two percent of Black people feel down, depressed, or hopeless more than half the time or nearly all the time, while 31% of White people do.
At the same time, Black people are only half as likely as White people to receive treatment due to barriers to care such as stigma, bias, and a shortage of Black mental health providers. Today, only one in three Black adults with mental health challenges receives treatment.
Culturally relevant mental health support
This Black History Month, we honor and celebrate the Black voices—artists, authors, creators, mindfulness leaders, movement instructors, performers, and narrators—who are supporting Black mental health and advancing the dialogue. We’ve curated a selection of their content on Calm that you can share with employees to help them reduce stress and anxiousness in the moment, get better sleep, and build resilience over time.
Dr. Rheeda Walker, a licensed clinical psychologist, tenured professor, and author, has dedicated nearly two decades to helping people in the Black community combat stigma, practice emotional well-being, build resilience, and get the best possible care in an unequal system. She wrote The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health and The Unapologetic Workbook for Black Mental Health to help people understand and overcome the impacts of racial trauma.
- The Black Self-Worth at Work by Dr. Rheeda series on Calm is designed to equip Black employees with strategies to thrive in the face of workplace challenges, including microaggressions, exclusion, and other forms of racism.
- In the Minding Your Black Mind with Dr. Rheeda series, she offers insights and shares strategies to help Black people handle daily challenges and assaults on their humanity with grace.
LeBron James is a world-renowned, four-time National Basketball Association champion and MVP.
- In Train Your Mind – Vol. 1, James opens up his playbook for mental fitness for the very first time.
Lama Rod Owens is a meditation teacher, author, and activist specializing in helping people care for themselves. He’s the author of bestseller Love and Rage and co-author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love and Liberation.
- Caring for Your Grief is a nourishing meditation series to support listeners through times of loss and change.
Kaira Jewel Lingo is a mindfulness meditation teacher, author, and mentor who has a lifelong interest in blending spirituality and meditation with social justice.
- We Were Made for Times Like These is a series of guided meditations to help listeners meet life’s challenges with more resilience and ease.
Timothy Alexander White is a voice-over artist, graphic designer, videographer, and photographer. He has voiced thousands of TV and radio commercials nationwide and photographed singers, TV stars, and former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
- In The Artist: Basquiat in New York, written by Faith Adiele, White transports listeners to 1980s New York to learn about Jean-Michel Basquiat, one of the most important American artists in the 20th century.
Anika Noni Rose is an American actress and singer best known for voicing Tiana, Disney’s first African-American princess, in The Princess and the Frog.
- Calm and Disney launched a series of stories and meditations in 2023, including Daddy’s Front Porch narrated by Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Princess Tiana. Tiana is a courageous young woman and a visionary who learned the joy of sharing good food with others from her father.
Marcellus Shepard, aka “The Man with the Voice,” is a voice actor best known as the character S.A.C. Gordon Johnson on HBO Max’s “We Own This City” and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show the Cool Jazz Countdown.
- In The Glow Within, Shepard takes listeners on a little jaunt to the land of creativity where they’ll be inspired to let go, open their minds, and discover that their imagination and ideas flow just beneath consciousness.
Microaggressions against Black employees affect the whole organization
One in four Black people has experienced discrimination at work, and research shows that microaggressions against Black employees harm not just the recipients but also how they interact with teammates. Black people experiencing microaggressions at work often expend energy to defuse the situation rather than call out racism, out of concern that their response could appear “angry” and reflect poorly on them. The effort to restrain one’s responses takes an emotional toll over time. Experiencing microaggressions also can cause Black employees to become less objective in evaluating the ideas or decisions of those who perpetrate microaggressions against them.
Reducing workplace microaggressions and discrimination is a long-term effort that requires training executives and managers to lead by example, foster open and honest discussion, and create a culture of belonging in which every employee feels safe to be authentic and vulnerable. In the meantime, employers can turn to Black voices to help support the mental health and well-being of Black employees. Calm features diversity and accessibility in all resources, with 45% BIPOC representation across 350+ narrators worldwide.
HR/benefits Leaders, for more information on how Calm Business can provide mental health benefits to support your Black employees, connect with our Calm specialist today.