The Invisible Ache, Courtney B. Vance And Dr. Robin L. Smith, Black Men’s Mental Health

Courtney B. Vance And Dr. Robin L. Smith Put Black Men’s Mental Health At Forefront In ‘The Invisible Ache’

Courtney B. Vance has written a new guidebook aimed at helping Black men heal.

Actor Courtney B. Vance and psychologist Dr. Robin L. Smith have written a guidebook aimed at helping Black men heal.

Released in November 2023, The Invisible Ache: Black Men Identifying Their Pain and Reclaiming Their Power sees Vance and Smith combine memoirs, psychology, and practical tools to offer Black men guidance and support for reclaiming their mental health and wellness. The duo are on a promotional tour during Mental Health Awareness Month to amplify the book’s message and, they hope, save lives.

“There is an African proverb we use in the book that says ‘The lion’s story will never be known as long as the hunter is the one to tell it.’ So what we are doing in The Invisible Ache is making sure that the lions—Black men and boys–are narrating and reclaiming their own stories,” Smith told Essence. “We want to get to a point where it is normalized to not only ask, do you hurt or whether you hurt, but where does it hurt? The Invisible Ache is a personal invitation to every Black boy and man to heal, declare, and proclaim their divine birthright to be fully human, whole, and free.”

Vance and Smith sat down for “The Couch Conversations” with Give Black Alliance last week where The Preacher’s Wife star opened up about the real-life tragedy he faced.

“My father took his life back in 1990. He shot himself…and my father was not at peace,” he said.

Vance was starring in Six Degrees of Separation on Broadway at the time and had to take time off to go home and be with his family. While there, his mother encouraged him to seek therapy to cope with the sudden death.

“Thank God I got the mandate from her,” he told People. While finding a therapist can be “fraught with so many reasons to say, ‘Ah, it’s too much work.’ When you’re on the outside of it, looking in, it’s overwhelming. It’s too much work for the potential payoff.”

However, “the payoff is you,” Vance says. “Thankfully I had a mother who encouraged me to seek counseling, and I had people like Laura Linney and the masseuse, Gunilla, who led me to Dr. K.”

Now, Vance is on a mission to remind Black men of their value and right to exist wholly and happily.

The Invisible Ache grew out of my desire to provide a resource and safe space for Black men of all ages to explore, discuss, restore, and heal when it comes to our mental health,” Vance said. “I want the book to always serve as a reminder that we are worthy of happiness, of peace, of love, and of support.”

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