This post is dedicated to Dr. Mikal N. Rasheed, a great therapist and friend who lived October 7, 1943-July 7, 2021. He helped countless patients which included close friends and family members. I am thankful for the gift he brought forth to the world in service of the common man and woman. At the end of this post, I've included a list of the books he and his lovely wife have written.
Focus on Black Mental Health
Black mental health was brought center stage when Simone Biles became the 4th Black athlete in the Olympic Games (2020-2021) to decline to participate for some of her routines due to mental health reasons. Though it's widely accepted that taking personal time or as so ably put by Heather Hedley in her, "Me Time" is essential to maintaining good health, athletes are held to even higher standards.
Athletes are projected in the media as being teflon coated super-humans with nerves of steel. Adjectives like indestructible, and invincible are often used to describe those who perform fantastic feats. The superwoman and superman syndrome is bantered about and worn like a badge of honor. And for Black people, the myths are magnified. Ideas of our ability to withstand pain have long been misrepresented. In the book, “Medical Apartheid,” scores of the enslaved were not given anaestesia when undergoing operations because in part it was believed we didn’t feel pain. This mindset has been carried over into today’s society when others respond to the athlete’s call for help with taunts and jokes as Olympic athlete Simone Biles was when she took a mental health break from part of the Tokoyo Olympic 2020-2021 Games.
Thankfully, there are authors who have written for the casually curious all the way to college level student therapists who will find great information specifically on how and when to get Mental Health services for the Black community.
Books on Black Mental Health
Olympic women’s shot put thrower Raven Saunders revealed that she was depressed and had childhood trauma effecting her performance. There’s an excellent mini-documentary video that describes her journey. Her nickname of “Hulk” added to her persona of being able to conquer the world in spite of any internal challenges. Going from suicide ideation to Olympic silver medalist is testament to the beneficial role that mental health services can provide. View more about her life in a mini documentary on Youtube.
The Black community, however is hesitant to ask for mental health services. It is an unfortunate side effect of years of mistreatment by doctors and a stigma associated with being considered “crazy” or “touched.” It is well known that society at large does not have a realistic view of what it is like to live with a mental illness, no thanks to the media’s role in socializing this. According to, “How the Stigma of Mental Health Is Spread by Mass Media,” Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, says the media can downplay its effects or portray symptoms of a disease like depression with a broad brush.
When Japanese and Haitian heritage tennis sensation Naomi Osaka pulled out of the French open citing depression and anxiety in her twitter feed. I was glad to hear Black doctor Dr. Jen Caudle who has also suffered from anxiety applaud Osaka for taking a stand for herself and bringing more attention to a topic many feel ashamed to admit. Dr. Caudle even admitted in her video it was the first time she revealed her challenge with the disease publicly based in part because Osaka did.
“Noone really knows all the sacrifices