Black Mental Health: A Mini Booklist For Adults

By NYPL Staff
February 1, 2021

This blog post is part of the Woodson Project—a series of events, posts, and book lists on subjects including empowering Black families, amplifying Black voices, exploring Black identity and intersectionality, and discovering Black influencers in STEAM. The project was created by branch staff from across NYPL to honor Dr. Carter G. Woodson, who in 1926 created Negro History Week—the precursor to Black History Month.

This short booklist highlights materials that address the subject of mental health in relation to the Black community including issues of trauma, violence, depression, anxiety and the effects of racism on the psyche. 

Heavy: An American Memoir by Kiese Laymon

Laymon writes eloquently and honestly about the physical manifestations of violence, grief, trauma, and abuse on his own body. He writes of his own eating disorder and gambling addiction as well as similar issues that run throughout his family. Through self-exploration, storytelling, and honest conversation with family and friends, Heavy seeks to bring what has been hidden into the light and to reckon with all of its myriad sources, from the most intimate—a mother-child relationship—to the most universal—a society that has undervalued and abused black bodies for centuries.

Willow Weep For Me by Meri Nana-Ama Danquah

Examines the author's personal struggle with depression, the hidden roots of her illness, the effect it had on her life, and her ability to cope with the disease through the support of other African American women.

I'm Telling The Truth. But I'm Lying: Essays by Bassey Ikpi

A deeply personal collection of essays by the Nigerian-American writer and creator of #NoShameDay explores how her childhood move from Nigeria to Oklahoma was complicated by Bipolar II and anxiety disorders.

Black Fatigue by Mary-Frances Winters

Presents information about the intergenerational impact of systemic racism on the physical and psychological health of African Americans and explains why and how society needs to collectively do more to combat its pernicious effects.

Contributors: Ramon Carela, Asuncion Cora, Whitney Davidson-Rhodes, Esther Jackson, Carolyn Lawerence, Dhariyah Luqman, Allison Nellis, Micheal Okoli, Rachel Roseberry, Wayne Walters

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Summaries provided via NYPL’s catalog, which draws from multiple sources. Click through to each book’s title for more.