The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) understands that the Black Queer community has faced and overcome many challenges last year and early into this calendar year, including:
- The introduction and codification of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in states across the country, including the Don’t Say Gay Bill and Stop WOKE Act in Florida. These bills maintain whiteness and white supremacy by enforcing harmful beliefs and making students feel unwelcome in the schools they are compelled to attend.
- The deadliest year on record for the Black transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming community due to hate crimes and domestic violence.
- Harmful beliefs and misconceptions about our community being spread and perpetuated by people with large media platforms.
These challenges have contributed to us feeling unsafe, uncertain, and stressed. In addition to policy attacks and trauma caused by the pandemic, many community members are dealing with family shame and rejection, expending labor to “invite in” the people you may know and love, and the trauma of feeling unsafe navigating community and public spaces. We also want to acknowledge that trauma and toxic stress are not new for our community and that we carry existing, inherited trauma, such as post-traumatic slave syndrome, in which the continued discrimination and oppression our community experiences creates intergenerational psychological trauma.
While many of us have developed the healthy habit of scheduling annual, routine physical checkups, data suggest that we are less likely to schedule regular mental health visits with qualified and competent providers. We also know there are fewer qualified mental health practitioners equipt to meet our mental health needs. Accessing mental health care also requires access to health insurance, financial resources for copays, and transportation, which can present insurmountable challenges for our beautifully diverse community members.
NBJC has partnered with the Boris L. Henson Foundation to provide free mental health support to youth in our community. The Mental Wellness Support Program provides Black LGBTQ+/SGL young people ages 12-22 access to individual counseling sessions with licensed clinicians (up to 5 sessions per person), either virtually or in person. We hope that our partnership will permit more of our youth to gain access to tools they can use beyond this program to guard their joy even when navigating challenging times and mental health realities.