Black Women and Mental Wellness

By:  Shelida Stuart Johnson, MA, NCC, LPC

Have you heard of the Strong Black Woman (SBW) Schema? The SBW Schema is a type of social construct built around the characteristics of Black women. Some of those characteristics consist of emotional restraint, independence and self-sacrifice (Jones et al., 2020).

The SBW Schema, also known as the Superwoman Schema, was noted to have some positive protective factors, as well as some negative health effects associated with this persona. Researchers have noted the ongoing resilience found in Black women, but further explored the mental and physical risks that may arise as a result of this ongoing persona of strength.

Researchers found that Black women tend to “self-silence” their pain (Liao et al. 2020). Self-silencing was further linked to depressive symptoms in Black women. In interviews related to this study, Black women expressed how depression exists in their lives. They further disclosed that “it results from the exhaustion associated with the burden of supporting others, not tending to their own needs and repressing emotions that may come across as vulnerable” (Liao et al. 2020). This phenomenon further links the SBW Schema to mental and physical symptoms of anxiety, migraines, hair loss and panic attacks.

Again, at what costs are we silencing our voices and neglecting our mental and physical needs?

As the saying goes, “we cannot pour from an empty cup,” so please continue to replenish yourselves daily.

Additional directories, for finding a BIPOC therapist, can be found below. 

Therapy For Black Girls

Home - Melanin & Mental Health® (

About Us - AAKOMA Project

Home Page - Office of Minority Health (OMH) (

BFT Directory - Black Female Therapists


Abrams, J. A., Hill, A., & Maxwell, M. (2019). Underneath the mask of the strong Black woman schema: Disentangling influences of strength and self-silencing on depressive symptoms among US Black women. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 80(9-10), 517-526.

Jones, M.K., Harris, K.J. & Reynolds, A.A. (2021). In Their Own Words: The Meaning of the Strong Black Woman Schema among Black U.S. College Women. Sex Roles 84, 347–359.              

Liao, K. Y., Wei, M., & Yin, M. (2020). The misunderstood schema of the strong black woman: Exploring its mental health consequences and coping responses among African American women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 44(1), 84-104.