The world was rocked when the news of Cheslie Kryst’s death was released. The former Miss USA passed by suicide in February, according to the local medical examiner’s office, and her mother recently spoke out on Red Table Talk about how the pageant winner was struggling with depression. Similarly, Arlana Miller a Southern University cheerleader died by suicide and shared a tragic note on Instagram stating she felt “like she wasn’t enough.”
This speaks to a larger conversation around the mental health struggles of young Black women across the country.
“Black teenage girls are more likely to report symptoms of depression than Black boys or white teens,” McKenzie Stokes told NCState.com. She co-authored a 2020 paper on the mental health of Black girls. “We wanted to learn more about some of the factors that may contribute to that higher rate of depression.”
Sheri Crawley is keenly aware of this.
The founder of Pretty Brown Girl, a mental health non-profit dedicated to connecting Black female youth to wellness resources. A large component of the organization is its Pretty Brown Girl Academy, a 15-week virtual program designed to foster the social-emotional well-being of Black and Brown girls and offer them a safe space to express themselves, build sisterhood and let their voices be heard in a judgment-free zone. Since its onset in 2020, Pretty Brown Girl Academy has become one of the fastest growing girls movements in the country, reaching more than 4,000 girls in over 100 schools across 30 states.
“As a social empowerment movement, we have been committed to advocating on behalf of Black and Brown girls within communities and schools for the past twelve years,” said Crawley. “We are truly grateful to support thousands of girls across the country, to become the best versions of themselves, encourage self-acceptance and gain a sense of belonging.”
This is crucial since Black female youth is more susceptible to having mental health affects than other groups and less likely to receive treatment.
There’s minimal research that examines mental health related issues specifically among Black girls and subsequently, resources that are allocated to the group are few and far between. PBR is aiming to change that.
“Pretty Brown Girl is one of the very few organizations dedicated to ensuring young girls have the support and safe space to practice self-love and increase their social and emotional well-being, all while celebrating the greatness they have inside. This National Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond, Pretty Brown Girl aims to help our girls navigate stress, anxiety, and toxic relationships to uncover their true identities.”