Be Well Black Girl
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation recently awarded a $150,000 grant to Black Girls Smile (BGS) in support of the foundation’s Mental Health & Well-Being giving strategy. The grant will help fund the new BGS BeWellBlackGirl program, an online platform committed to connecting Black girls, their supporters and their advocates with local and national wellness resources.
Founded in 2012, BGS provides gender-responsive and culturally-affirming mental wellness education, resources and support geared toward Black women and girls. Since its inception, BGS has grown to support more than 10,000 Black women and girls nationally through mental health literacy programming, intersectionality workshops and therapy scholarship programs. All BGS programs focus on honoring the voices and experiences of Black girls, creating space to acknowledge Black girls are not alone and communicating that Black women and girls are worthy and deserving of joy and wellness.
This grant is a part of the $8 million in Mental Health & Well-Being grants the foundation awarded in 2023. As the foundation explored the needs in the Mental Health & Well-Being space, two themes came to the forefront – digital mental health and the epidemic of loneliness. The grant made to BGS will help address technology’s impact on youth mental health, both as a detractor and a solution.
The new BeWellBlackGirl platform will feature a variety of mental health solutions. The program will help connect Black girls and women with crisis resources nationally and locally, and also help with navigating these resources to lessen the fear and anxiety that can be associated with mental health systems.
BGS Founder and Executive Director Lauren Carson has made a commitment to help ensure that all young Black females feel supported, enlightened and empowered to lead mentally healthy lives.
“Like a lot of the girls we work with, I struggled as a young Black girl with clinical depression and anxiety,” said Lauren Carson. “I had to access resources that traditionally weren’t used in my community, such as therapists, psychiatrists and support groups. And in most of these settings, there wasn’t anybody who looked like me. But I focused on my health and wellbeing and also built skills and tools for lasting change and management of my mental health. I want the same for everyone, particularly Black girls.”
Additional BGS resources include crisis call lines and information on finding mental health professionals and specialized disorder support. BGS programs include on-demand workshops, therapy assistance and the SHE’s Mentally Prepared educational and wellness program, a customizable program curated by BGS focused on fostering community.
As America celebrates Black History Month in February, the meaningful and impactful work being done by BGS is especially important to highlight. The organization is powered by Black women, including the BGS leadership, staff, volunteer team and board of directors. Looking to the future, BGS will continue to expand its programming and initiatives to meet the evolving mental health needs of Black women and girls in the Atlanta area and across America.