The conversation on mental health within the Black community has become increasingly louder as more and more public figures share their own experiences dealing with health issues. According to Mental Health America, 16% of Black Americans have reported issues with their mental health over the past year. Meanwhile, the spread of the COVID-19 has only worsened problems with its economic fallout. In order to create a safe space for black men to seek out treatment for mental health ailments, these two individuals came together to create a new platform to offer affordable access to treatment.
Tasnim Sulaiman and Zakia Williams are the founders of Black Men Heal, an organization dedicated to providing pro-bono quality therapy treatment for Black men struggling with mental health issues. Sulaiman, a licensed therapist, noticed a void of Black therapists.
“I started BMH in 2018 as a solution to a growing problem: Black Men are increasingly experiencing trauma, yet disproportionately receiving healing for those traumas. Unhealed trauma can manifest into mental illness,” said Sulaiman in an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“As a psychotherapist in private practice, I wanted to after increased access and opportunity for men within my own community to seek therapy and to receive a quality experience. The idea of Black Men Heal came to me in a vision- I saw the outcome of how much impact it would have -but the vision did not show me the steps- I was left to figure out everything else in the midst of the process.”
In addition to providing resources for patients to find treatment, the platform also serves as a safe space for those to discuss their problems with others who may be dealing with the same issues. “It was important for us to create a safe healing space for Black men because Black men don’t have enough of those spaces,” said Sulaiman.
“Women have started to create and cultivate our own ‘Black Girl Magic’ spaces where we lean on each other in sisterhood. Women have started to take more ownership overhealing and wellness. It was important to create a similarly safe and connective experience for men as well because black men are seen as such a threat in our country.”
“We have built a platform for them to know that other men are going through similar things they are and that we are here for them,” said Williams tells BLACK ENTERPRISE via email “We provided universality for a group that has borne the burden of the falsehood that being strong means not sharing and keeping things inside.”