How Workplaces Can Support Black Mental Health

Updated: Jan 24

Nina Tomaro | Marketing and Communications, Mind Share Partners

This article was originally published on Mind Share Partners' "Mental Health at Work" section on Thrive Global.

Updated June 1, 2020.

Mental health is the next frontier of diversity and inclusion within organizations. Black Americans are no different when it comes to the prevalence of mental health conditions when compared to the rest of the population. According to the Office of Minority Health, Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Mind Share Partner's 2019 Mental Health at Work Report found that almost half (47%) of Black American employees had left a job, at least in part, for mental health reasons, compared to 32% for Caucasian employees.

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This Mind Share Partners interview seeks to explore and uncover unique experiences and barriers to workplace mental health in the Black American community. I came across Imadé Nibokun Borha, an award-winning writer, journalist, and founder of an online movement called “Depressed While Black” where she shares her personal mental health journey in an effort to combat the stigma surrounding depression and other mental health conditions in the black community.

Mind Share Partners sat down with Imadé to talk about how the workplace specifically affects Black American mental health. We also dive into the unique stigma experienced within the community and distinctive actions and perspectives businesses can take to support Black American mental health.

Q: Could you share a brief synopsis about your background and what you are up to in the world?

Imadé: “I started working with a mental health nonprofit in the fall of 2018, which has allowed my career path and mental health advocacy to overlap—my goal for quite some time now. I am a writer and I worked in journalism and have been a creative writer for the majority of my career. I worked at a small-town journalism job and had experienced a lot of triggers with readers who didn’t like my work. I attempted suicide for the second time in February 2018 and eventually quit my job in April 2018. I believed that I wasn’t hireable and that no company would hire a broken, defective, and mentally ill writer. Fortunately, I was able to transition into communications, and now I am able to use my experiences to help others.”

Q: You launched a movement called “Depressed While Black” where you share a lot of your own mental health experiences. What does “depressed while black” mean?

Imadé: “This movement began as my creative thesis in school. It was for my non-fiction writing MFA and we had to create a thesis in 2013. I didn’t think I had anything to write about. In the black community, it’s common not to have a father and be raised in a single-parent household. I didn’t think I was going through anything important.