Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Feb 10, 2023

In this episode of Beyond Theory Podcast, we delve into the complex world of racialized trauma and its profound impact on Black mental health. Through candid conversations with Deran Young, founder of Black Therapist Rock, and Dr. Sheldon Jacobs, a member of the Board of Directors at NAMI, we explore how the legacy of slavery, segregation, systemic racism, and police brutality have created layers of intergenerational trauma that continue to shape the lived experiences and mental wellbeing of Black Americans today.


The episode unpacks the concept of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS), highlighting how centuries of oppression and dehumanization have led to deep-seated issues like "vacant esteem" and internalized feelings of inferiority within Black communities. This underscores the critical importance of positive representation, affirming imagery, and cultural pride in promoting healing and resilience.


Through powerful examples, such as the disproportionate drowning rates among Black children and the complex emotions evoked by incidents of police brutality, the episode illustrates how the ripple effects of racial trauma are far-reaching and multifaceted. It also explores the potential for community healing through bearing witness, demanding accountability, and engaging in honest dialogues about racism, even when those conversations are painful.


The guests offer valuable insights on innovative approaches to making mental health support more accessible and culturally relevant within Black communities. From training barbers to recognize signs of distress to fostering peer support and community-based interventions, the episode highlights the importance of meeting people where they are and providing care that resonates with their lived experiences.


Key Takeaways:


1. Understanding Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS)

PTSS is a condition that exists as a consequence of multigenerational oppression of African Americans, resulting from centuries of chattel slavery. It leads to issues like "vacant esteem," internalized feelings of inferiority, and self-destructive behaviors. Recognizing PTSS is crucial for mental health professionals working with Black communities.

Keywords: Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome, PTSS, intergenerational trauma, vacant esteem, mental health in Black communities


2. Addressing the Mental Health Impact of Systemic Racism

Systemic racism, police brutality, and racial terror have profound, far-reaching effects on Black mental health. Seemingly unrelated issues, such as disproportionate drowning rates among Black children, can be traced back to the trauma of racism. Dismantling systemic racism is essential for promoting mental wellbeing in Black communities.

Keywords: systemic racism, racial trauma, police brutality, Black mental health disparities, dismantling racism


3. Fostering Community Healing and Resilience

Community support, positive representation, and cultural pride are powerful tools for healing racial trauma. Bearing witness to injustice and demanding accountability can be a form of collective healing. Honest dialogues about racism, even when painful, are necessary for progress and mental wellbeing.

Keywords: community healing, cultural pride, mental health resilience, racial trauma, social justice


4. Innovative Approaches to Black Mental Health Support

Making mental health care accessible and culturally relevant is crucial for supporting Black communities. Training trusted community figures, like barbers, to recognize mental health concerns can break down barriers to care. Peer support, community-based interventions, and meeting people where they are, are key strategies for engagement.

Keywords: culturally relevant therapy, community-based interventions, mental health accessibility, peer support, innovative mental health approaches


5. The Importance of Representation and Affirming Imagery

Positive representation and affirming imagery are essential for promoting self-esteem and mental wellbeing in Black communities. Seeing oneself reflected in positions of power, heroism, and beauty can counter the effects of negative stereotypes and racial trauma. Diversifying representation is a matter of mental health equity and empowerment.

Keywords: Black representation, affirming imagery, self-esteem, mental health equity, countering stereotypes


Ultimately, this episode serves as a call for the critical work of dismantling systemic racism and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of Black individuals and communities. By shedding light on the layered complexities of racialized trauma and uplifting strategies for healing and resilience, it offers hope and direction for the path forward.

How the Media Portrays Black Trauma - Rio Retreat Center

Beyond Theory, powered by Meadows Behavioral Healthcare, is produced and hosted by me, Dominic Lawson. You can discover more at 

Special thanks to Deran Young, Founder of Black Therapists Rock. For mor infomation about her work, go to

Also, to Dr. Sheldon Jacobs, Member of the board of directors at NAMI and Adjunct Professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. 

 Sources to create this episode include ABC News, NBC News, NBC 12 Richmond, and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.