In this era of discrimination, invisibility, and psychological warfare, people in the Black community need so much more than mental health or well-being. They need an “impermeable web of protection” for the mind, explains Rheeda Walker, PhD.
A licensed clinical psychologist, tenured professor, researcher, and author, Dr. Walker has dedicated nearly two decades to advancing the mental and emotional health of African Americans through empowerment. She wrote The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health and the Unapologetic Workbook for Black Mental Health, she says, to help people understand and overcome the impacts of racial trauma.
In partnership with Calm, Dr. Walker also introduced the ABCs of Minding Your Mind, a guide to help people in the Black community achieve empowering, incremental shifts in their mindsets and lifestyles.
New Calm resources to help people build psychological fortitude in the face of racism
Black employees can now access Dr. Walker’s insights and actionable guidance in two new wisdom series available on Calm. “Black Self-Worth at Work by Dr. Rheeda” and “Minding Your Black Mind with Dr. Rheeda” are grounded in Dr. Walker’s principle of psychological fortitude (PF), which she defines as a measure, on a scale of zero to 10, of an individual’s capacity to take care of their important responsibilities in life.
Throughout the programs, Dr. Walker asks the listener to rate their PF, encouraging an ongoing practice of self check-in. She then explores the experiences of people in the Black community in the workplace and beyond, offering insights and actionable tools to help them navigate their unique needs and strengthen their PF when encountering racism. Her sessions are filled with compelling narratives and honest knowledge delivered heart-to-heart.
The impact of racial trauma on mental health
People who experience repeated discrimination over time—whether exclusion or microaggressions at work, bullying, or even violence—are at significantly higher risk of short- and long-term mental health challenges, including stress, anxiety, depression, and substance-use disorders. In fact, Calm research shows that 42% of Black people feel down, depressed or hopeless more than half the time or nearly all the time.
At the same time, Black and African American communities historically have experienced barriers to mental health care due to factors such as bias, stigma, and lack of culturally competent providers. Today, only one in three Black adults with mental illness receives treatment.
In her books and new Calm programs, Dr. Walker aims to help people in the Black community combat stigma, practice emotional well-being, build resilience, and get the best possible care in an unequal system.
Black Self-Worth at Work with Dr. Rheeda helps Black employees thrive in the workplace
Black Self-Worth at Work with Dr. Rheeda is designed to equip Black employees with strategies to thrive in the face of workplace challenges, including microaggressions, exclusion, and other forms of racism. Her strategies quickly affirm what they commonly experience at work so they can refocus their energies on strengthening their own perception of self-worth. The program features the following sessions for Black employees:
- Let’s Start by Being Real
Dr. Walker introduces herself as not only a psychologist, professor, researcher and author but as a Black woman who has had her share of “aggravation and annoyance” that comes her way as it relates to her being Black. Her own experience is partially why she developed this program to help Black employees navigate racism in the office, in the breakroom or on the shop floor.
- Rating Your Psychological Fortitude at Work
Understand what “psychological fortitude” (PF) at work means, how workplace experiences can tax your PF, and how to maximize it each day.
- Protecting Your Peace from Microaggressions
Getting intentional about protecting your psychological fortitude includes having a game plan for responding to microaggressions at work.
- Shake Off ‘Shoulding’ On Your Work
Become aware of “should-ing,” “catastrophizing,” and other unhelpful thought patterns about your work that can compromise your psychological fortitude – and what to do about it.
- Embracing Authenticity Over Imposter Syndrome
Learn about internalized racism, imposter syndrome, and risks to your psychological fortitude.
- Spiritual and Religious Resources for the Soul
Why it’s important not to over-rely on faith to the exclusion of accessing specific mental health strategies when your mind is feeling out of whack.
“Lighten your load and maybe even restore your soul” with Minding Your Black Mind with Dr. Rheeda
In Minding Your Black Mind with Dr. Rheeda, she offers insights and shares strategies to help Black individuals handle daily challenges and assaults on their humanity with grace. Select sessions included in this program are:
- Assuming You Deserve Happiness
Get insights about depression and anxiety, two commonly diagnosed challenges that can cut into your psychological fortitude, and about managing symptoms and seeking support.
- Using Legacy as a Superpower Against Racism
Dr. Rheeda gets real about racism to raise your awareness of racism-related stress that could undercut your psychological fortitude.
- When “Shoulding” on Life Hurts Self-Worth
Build awareness of problematic thought patterns, such as overgeneralizing, that can lead to sadness, worry, and even low self-esteem.
- Steering Away from the Crisis Cliff
Crisis doesn’t just happen overnight. Oftentimes, it is the accumulation of stressors that set us up for the one thing that “breaks the camel’s back” Dr. Walker talks about strategies for getting in front of a serious mental health crisis.
Seven in 10 Black Americans have reported incidents of discrimination or police mistreatment in their lifetime. One in four Black people have experienced discrimination at work. Whether you’re a HR/benefits professional focused on improving the experience and mental health of Black employees, or you’re a Black individual searching for support and inspiration, explore Dr. Walker’s wisdom series for important insights and tools based on her decades of research and experience supporting Black mental health.
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.