Commentary Strange Fruit

In recognition of Minority Mental Health Month, we continue examining issues affecting African Americans and their mental well-being – or the lack thereof.

In February 2016, 23-year-old Black Lives Matter activist MarShawn McCarrel took his own life on the step of the Columbus, Ohio courthouse steps. This March, the body of another social activist, 29-year-old Amber Evans, was found in a Columbus river, and her death was also ruled a suicide.

JoAnne Viviano, Health Reporter for The Columbus Dispatch joins us this week to discuss the toll that fighting for social justice can take on the mental health of activists like McCarrel and Evans. The activists she interviewed for her piece in the Dispatch cited long workweeks, encountering widespread racism, vicariously transferring traumas, and unrealistic expectations of fellow activists as some of the factors that adversely affect their mental health – and have necessitated a shift in how their community looks after one another in a commitment to a healing process.

Then, we shine the spotlight on a small Texas college named Paul Quinn College that is so committed to the mental well-being of its students that it offers and encourages every incoming student to meet with a counselor to have their needs assessed, at a free on-site mental health clinic. Eva-Marie Ayala, staff reporter for The Dallas News, tells us how this tiny HBCU, which prides itself on recruiting at-risk students, promotes health and wellness throughout its campus.

Listen to the show: