Black Girls Smile Gives Agency to Black Mental Health Through Tech
Information and access to resources create the potential of find solutions to our most pressing problems. This truth is behind the Black Girls Smile campaign, BGS x Tech: Leveraging Tech and Wellness, which will be showcased at the SXSW panel discussion: Mental Health Crisis: New Technological Solutions on March 13 in Austin, Texas. As a mental health nonprofit, BGS launches this unique campaign to raise awareness about how technology can be leveraged to generate better mental health outcomes.
If you look at the history behind media, representation is everything. Many young black girls can speak to feelings of marginalization due to their unique experiences being underrepresented in traditional media such as television and film. The same is true for mental health. Shows and movies commonly depict mental health as a one-sided reality, one of groundless illness and dysfunction. This reality can inhumanly disempower anyone’s sense of value and merit. Black girls navigating mental health concerns can often feel like unicorns, imaginary and nonexistent.
But today we live in a “tech” age, full of social media and mobile applications, ushering in a time where innovation can often mean creating platforms to elevate the awareness social problems. Like with media, the pervasive enjoyment of technology, especially by younger generations, creates fertile ground for elevating the true realities within mental health.
Apps have become a part of our everyday lives, we use them with regularity to facilitate our interactions and even as survival tools to “life hack” through the day. But unlike with mainstream television and movies, our apps and social timelines are most reflective of our ideas, interests and the communities we identify with. Tech allows for a sense of agency that is often lacking in traditional media.
As part of the BGS x Tech campaign, BGS has partnered with the notable mental health apps Pacifica, which provides daily tools for managing stress, anxiety and depression, Headspace, a structured meditation app, and Sattva, a meditation timer and progress tracker. By encouraging individuals to utilize the technology of these applications, BGS is promoting access to information and resources that increase personal mental health competency and affirm the importance of mental wellness in our everyday lives.
But BGS is not only promoting mental health app technology via their website and social media, but are also leveraging these platforms to promote the representation and visibility of mental health care, especially to young black women. Mental health awareness continues to face so many hurdles—from public stigma to alarming gaps in treatment access—BGS aims to be a part of mental wellness solutions by giving a relatable face to the mental health problems, digital or otherwise.