5 things you should know about Black health and wellness in 2022

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Black History Month is a longstanding celebration intended to honor the contributions and legacies of Black leaders and activists across history. Each year, the U.S. president chooses a specific theme for recognition. This year’s theme, Black health and wellness, “acknowledges the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also… the activities, rituals, and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well.” 

Two sides to the wellness coin

This theme highlights both the power of Black wellness rituals as well as the dangerous inequities that still exist within the health care and wellness industries for people of color. According to research from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, racial bias can negatively affect diagnoses, treatment, and pain management for Black patients, leading to a general distrust in the health care system. In fact, less than 6 in 10 Black adults say they trust their doctors, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 

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Personal well-being is a high priority 

But, despite these challenges, recent QuickBooks data reveals that Black communities are more focused on personal well-being than ever before. 54% of Black survey respondents say the pandemic and events of 2020 have made personal well-being an even higher priority. 

As we near the end of Black History Month, here are five more Black health and wellness stats you should know this year. 

1. Only 4% of psychologists in the U.S. identify as Black. 

According to Black survey respondents, mental health has the greatest impact on a person’s overall well-being. But 1 in 3 say they can’t prioritize mental health as much as they would like. And because only 4% of psychologists in the U.S. identify as Black, it can be difficult for Black patients to find help from someone who understands Black challenges or offers a space that feels safe and nurturing. 

Browse Black mental health experts and resources in the QuickBooks Black wellness directory.

2. Money is the top cause of stress for most Americans

Money can’t buy happiness, but it can certainly impact your well-being. Financial stress leads to chronic illnesses and mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, according to the American Psychological Association. Perhaps that’s why Black respondents said “financial well-being” has the second greatest impact on personal health. Unfortunately, twice as many Black survey respondents say their current financial situation is “terrible” compared to white respondents.  

3. Only 1.2% of U.S. venture capital went to Black businesses last year

When it comes to running a business, entrepreneurs of color—particularly women—notoriously have a harder time gaining access to loans and funding. According to Crunchbase research, only 1.2% of U.S. venture capital went to Black-founded businesses in 2021. And 80% of Black Canadian entrepreneurs say it would be difficult or impossible to get even a small loan of $10,000 for their business, according to data from the African Canadian Senate Group. 

4. Black survey respondents strive for stronger connections

37% of Black survey respondents say closer connections with friends and family would make 2022 a more successful year. After all, human connection is critical to mental and emotional health. But a lot of factors can influence the well-being of a family—either biological or chosen. Location and income can limit access to quality family health care, child care, and community spaces. 

5. Nearly half of Black respondents plan to accelerate their career in 2022

The average person spends more than one-third of their life working. Knowing this, career satisfaction has a significant impact on mental and physical well-being. But Black professionals tend to find that well-paying job opportunities at inclusive companies are hard to come by. And Black Americans are still paid less than their white counterparts for the same job. But 42% of Black survey respondents plan to focus on their career and personal development this year. 

Browse curated resources for Black health and wellness

The health and wellness industries can be unwelcome spaces for communities of color, but more and more champions of the cause are emerging as we examine systemic barriers and challenge the stigmas of asking for help.

Use the QuickBooks Black wellness directory to find welcoming Black practitioners, organizations, and communities near you. Spaces where you feel safe, seen, and supported on your path to well-being. 

This article originally appeared on the Quickbooks Resource Center and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.

7 tips for maintaining mental wellness in the workplace

Whether you’re an employee or a business owner, work-related stress is the most major source of stress for American adults. According to a 2020 Mental Health America survey, nearly 83% of Americans feel stressed or emotionally drained from work. Another 85% say that workplace stress affects their overall mental health.

And that’s on top of the mental health effects caused by the coronavirus pandemic. According to a recent MetLife study, 38% of adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression in 2020, an increase of 27% since 2019.

Social distancing, shelter-in-place orders, and shut-downs shoulder some of the blame, but work-related stress is still a culprit. Work environments have changed drastically and, in some cases, irrevocably within the last 12 months. Hundreds of thousands of businesses temporarily or permanently closed in 2020, causing unemployment rates to reach record highs.

Those fortunate enough to continue working from home or operating their businesses from remote environments juggle childcare services, homeschooling, sharing workspaces with partners or parents, insufficient workspaces, or spotty internet connectivity. It’s no wonder 65% of respondents say they find it difficult to concentrate in their work environment, causing productivity to plummet.

It all comes full circle. Feeling emotionally drained or stressed at work is directly correlated to distractions in the work environment, lost productivity, and uncertainty about the future. But failing to manage this stress properly can result in total burnout or lead to serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety. And that’s only half the equation. These mental health issues can cause physical problems, like high blood pressure and chronic diseases.

Whew. Pause. Take a deep breath—in through the nose, out through the mouth—that was a lot to digest.

More than anything, these scary statistics serve as a reminder for employees and employers alike that mental wellness should be a priority, both in and out of the workplace. By putting mental health first, you decrease the risk of burnout, increase productivity, and improve your physical health.

Sounds pretty good, right? You already know you’re supposed to eat a balanced diet, get a decent amount of sleep each night, and maintain an active lifestyle to improve your mental health. But there are a few more steps you can take to improve your mental wellbeing on the job.

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It’s easy to wake up with a sore throat or stuffy nose and determine that you’re not feeling well enough for work. It’s harder to make that call when you wake up feeling stressed or anxious—these symptoms aren’t quite as obvious. But mental health days are just as important as sick days. Your mind needs time to rest and heal in the same way that your body does. Taking that time ups your productivity when you do return to work and lowers your risk of physical illness down the line.

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It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re hunched over a keyboard or staring at a computer monitor. We know, you’re in “the zone.” But spending long stretches of time at work can negatively impact your productivity and motivation. Schedule mental health breaks to take a short walk, read a book, meditate, grab a snack, or whatever helps you relax your mind and body. Recharging your brain batteries will help you power through the rest of your day. Seriously, stop reading this article and add a recurring mental health break to your calendar. We’ll wait.

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Lots of companies offer an employee assistance program (EAP) as part of their benefits package. These programs offer employees direct access to mental health professionals via phone or in-person. EAPs are confidential and often free of charge. Beyond that, EAPs offer a wealth of mental health resources. If you’re not taking advantage of your EAP, it’s time to start.

No EAP? No problem. There’s an app for everything, and that includes mental wellbeing. Mental health apps like Talkspace, Lantern, and Betterhelp can connect you with mental health professionals virtually, 24/7. Apps like Calm, Headspace, and Happify can guide you through mindfulness techniques, help you balance stress and anxiety, and live a happier life.

Beyond that, talking to a licensed therapist or confiding in a trusted friend or partner can help you process your feelings and diminish stress. When in doubt, talk it out.

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This one is easy. Workplace relationships play an important role in job satisfaction and mental wellbeing. If you’re working remotely, you might be missing out on those mentally critical watercooler conversations. However your business currently operates, make time to connect with your team (safely, of course).

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In 2020, thousands of employees found themselves suddenly working from home — for many, that meant working from the living room or the kitchen table. According to a 2020 QuickBooks survey, 58% of these workers didn’t have a dedicated workspace in their home, and it blurred the line between work and life. If you can, designate a space for work — even if it’s just your desk. When you’re done for the day, cross the line between work and life and don’t look back until morning. If you’re having a hard time knowing when to call it quits, use an app to track your time at work. Clocking in and out can help your brain respect the boundaries you’ve set.

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You might not think your desk chair can impact your mental health, but if you’re uncomfortable, your mental wellness suffers. It’s worthwhile to invest in an ergonomic setup to keep your spine and your spirits aligned and feeling good. While we’re at it, take some time to declutter and organize your workspace. A desk filled with papers and post-its can invoke feelings of anxiety and stress. On the flip side, placing a small plant on your desk can actually decrease stress levels (as long as it’s alive). Clear desk, clear mind.

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An estimated one in five American adults suffers from a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And yet, the topic of mental health can still feel taboo. Beat the stigma by speaking openly and candidly about mental wellness in the workplace. Share articles, resources, and books with your team. Then, keep the conversation going.

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This article originally appeared on the QuickBooks Resource Center and was syndicated by MediaFeed.org.


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