This Is What It’s Like To Be “Depressed While Black”

This week, Refinery29 is exploring mental health topics as part of our partnership with Clinton Global Initiative University. This article was originally published on February 26, 2016.

Our society hasn't exactly made it easy on those with mental illnesses. But as Imade Nibokun explains in the latest video for Project UROK, people of color face unique challenges in getting help for mental health issues. "Depression was something that was hovering in the background that I just got use to," Nibokun says. "[It was] almost like a pair of shoes that you wear in." She found herself in grad school racing along the highway "wanting to die," which made her realize that she needed to get help. On her blog, Depressed While Black, Nibokun writes about the particular stigmas and barriers to care for people of color with mental illnesses. "Growing up I thought depression was a 'white person disease,'" Nibokun explains in the video, "that depression is just not something that we do as Black people... I really had to learn that I am worth the care." And with the recent suicide of MarShawn M. McCarrel II, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, Nibokun says mental health issues are colliding with other social justice issues in new ways. "It gave a wake-up call to all of us that there need to be healing spaces for Black Lives Matter activists," she explains, "because it takes us being whole mentally to fight oppression."

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