There is such a thing as Black women having the Wonder Woman syndrome, shouldering the responsibility of life and her family with a can-do-it-all attitude while falling into a deep depression. But it might be more correct to call it the Wakanda-Woman-Syndrome.
Letitia Wright, who plays Princess Shuri in Black Panther, knows firsthand about having the affliction in real life and recently got candid about her own bout with depression and the stigma surrounding mental health issues in the black community.
“In the Black community, it’s something that happens, but we don’t speak about it,” she said. “We have to continue to talk about it and bring it straight to the forefront. And [that doesn’t only apply to] the black community but different races as well.”
A vicious cycle
The 24-year-old said two years ago she was in a perpetual cycle dealing with her depression and she couldn’t seem to break out of the “repetitive cycle.” It became so pervasive that she said she took time off to prioritize her life and get help.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, although anyone can develop a mental health problem, African-Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.
Wright is now working to become an advocate for mental health, starting with examining the issues that keep Black women from getting the help they need.
“I speak boldly about [depression] because I struggled with it and I tried to find different ways [to heal], and it just didn’t work. I had to look deeper to find what could hold me, and I found that what held me together was my relationship with Jesus and my relationship with God.”
Wrights says she’s happy that her speaking out is helping people to break free.
“Even to this day, I’ll be at events and people will pull me to the side and tell me that they deal with the [situations] that I’ve dealt with. And I’m grateful because I want people to find a way out.”