A review by annamarie_reads
The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help You Deserve, by Rheeda Walker


As advertised, this book is a valuable guide for learning and emotional wellness. I had issues with a few of the sections as well as the way the book is laid out but I will talk about all of those below.

A large portion of the book, especially the first half, is spent identifying and discussing suicide, depression and the heavy toll of navigating in a racist society. It's a heavy read, I had to take it in chunks and then sometimes, take a break. And while all this information is important, this is where I wish the book for laid out a little differently.

The book states that many of us have low psychological fortitude (PF), basically meaning, a solid, healthy foundation to rely on and call upon while dealing with everything life throws at us. Especially for black people, who may believe they need to push through, do what needs to be done and just make it into the next day without giving enough thought and care for our physical and mental health and wellness. With this being the case, it would have been great to have the book broken up into sections of (for example) reading about depression and anxiety and then being offered suggestions and tools to manage those feelings. It was difficult reading chapter after chapter of detailed injustices, stories of suicide and poor health and neglect without the mention of helpful tools or ways to better care for yourself within those same chapters.

This kind of helpful information does appear in the book but not until the second section and really, not until Chapter 11.

There are earlier chapters within the second half of the book that mean to be helpful but I had a real problem with several assumptions that were made. The author is very religious, specifically Baptist, and is often quoting the bible and referring to speaking with your preacher for help and guidance. But what if you aren't Baptists or even religious? My spirituality is important and a big part of who I am but I don't belong to a church and I know I'm not alone. The author also assumes the reader comes from a big family with grandmothers and auties to communicate with. I don't have this either. Yet my mental toughness, physical and mental health and wellbeing are still incredibly important to me.

I do appreciate the difficult topics the author addresses and the tools provided in Chapter 11 are excellent. This book also helped me address what I recognize now as microaggressions that I didn't have the language and understanding of. I only knew I felt angry, sad and/or hurt. A lot is said about getting back to our roots, being proud of and learning about our African heritage and even, spending more time in black spaces, all of which I wholeheartedly agree with.

I wish the book was a little more balanced out with discussing issues and offering real help you can apply in your daily life but overall, I do feel this is an important and needed read. Now and for the future.