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Celebrating Black Women's Contributions to Mental Health

10 Mar 2024 4:43 PM | Dr. Nick Battle (Administrator)

In honor of Women's History Month, NABC would like to shine a spotlight on the remarkable achievements and contributions of black women in the field of mental health. Despite facing numerous obstacles, these trailblazers have not only broken barriers but have also paved the way for future generations. Their courage, resilience, and dedication have significantly impacted the field, ensuring that mental health is given the attention it deserves.

  1. Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark: Our journey begins with Dr. Mamie Phipps Clark, a pioneering psychologist who played a pivotal role in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. Her research on the effects of segregation on African American children's self-esteem and identity formed the foundation for desegregating schools and promoting equality. Dr. Clark's work highlighted the importance of mental well-being in the fight for civil rights (Brown v. Board of Education, 1954; Clark & Clark, 1947).

  2. Dr. Francis Cress Welsing: Next, we honor the extraordinary contributions of Dr. Francis Cress Welsing, a psychiatrist and author who brought attention to the psychological effects of racism and oppression. Her groundbreaking theory, known as the Cress Theory of Color Confrontation, explored how societal factors impact the mental health of African Americans. Dr. Welsing's work continues to inspire critical discussions about race and mental well-being (Welsing, 1991).

  3. Dr. Joy DeGruy: Another notable figure is Dr. Joy DeGruy, a renowned researcher and educator known for her work on intergenerational trauma and the impact of slavery on African American communities. Her book, "Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome," sheds light on the lasting psychological effects of slavery and provides a framework for healing. Dr. DeGruy's insights have played a vital role in promoting mental health awareness and fostering resilience within the black community (DeGruy, 2005).

  4. Dr. Angela Davis: No discussion of black women's contributions to mental health would be complete without mentioning Dr. Angela Davis. While she is primarily recognized as an activist and scholar, her work has touched on the intersections of race, gender, and mental health. Dr. Davis has consistently advocated for social justice, challenging the systemic inequalities that contribute to mental health disparities (Davis, 1981).

As we celebrate Women's History Month, it is crucial to recognize the invaluable contributions of black women to the field of mental health. Through their groundbreaking research, advocacy, and resilience, these remarkable individuals have shattered barriers and brought attention to the unique challenges faced by African Americans. Their work continues to inspire and empower, ensuring that mental health remains a priority for all. Let us honor and celebrate these black women who have left an indelible mark on the field of mental health and strive to carry their legacy forward.


Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

Clark, K. B., & Clark, M. P. (1947). Racial identification and preference in Negro children. The Journal of Negro Education, 16(3), 341-350.

Davis, A. Y. (1981). Women, race & class. Random House.

DeGruy, J. (2005). Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. Joy DeGruy Publications Inc.

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