mental health
Ebony Davis
Photo Credit: Aiesha Solomon

Laurel resident Ebony Davis was talking with her neighbor about the difficulties they’d experienced as Black women in the workplace when her neighbor suggested Davis write a book about the unique challenges, and in particular mental health challenges, that Blacks may encounter at work. As an author of two books and the founder of Butler and Davis Consulting LLC, Davis thought “That’s a good idea.” She got to work, and her new book, Protecting Your Mental Health While Black in the Workplace, was published in October. 

Davis wrote her book for Black people, and specifically for first-generation college students and the first office professionals in their families.

“It started off being more research-based, more information-based, but I started adding more of my personal experience into it,” Davis said in an interview. “I found that some of the personal experiences that I wrote about were not even the personal experiences that I planned to write about, but then I was, like, ‘You know what, actually, instead of talking about X, let me talk about Y’ because I forgot all about this situation and how I overcame that situation.”

The book talks about misconceptions some people have about mental health and focuses on research about Blacks in America not getting the most appropriate mental health services.

“We’re working in a healthcare system that is devalued, that was not built for us, so a lot of the interventions that we’re using, what we learned in the school, doesn’t work for us when we’re working with clients,” Davis said. “I want to build a foundation so that everyone can come in from the same vantage point.” 

The book explores dimensions of wellness, including emotional, spiritual, social, intellectual, environmental, physical, occupational and financial. The book also discusses detrimental characteristics of some workplaces and how Blacks can successfully navigate these challenges.

“Some people still don’t believe racism exists in the workplace. Sometimes, we don’t even recognize the oppressive systems that we’re encountering at the time,” Davis said. “It’s everywhere around us. We’re living in a capitalistic society and because of that, people are devalued in this system.”

Nelly Casseus, a colleague of Davis, said the book’s “mindset of making sure that you stay healthy” was the part that interested her most and that “it touched [her] in a lot of ways.” 

“As an African American woman, but Afro-Caribbean really, a lot of times we neglect our mental health and certain triggers in our work environment, ” she said. 

“The main thing I wanted people to take away was that to just be open, always be like a lifelong learner in learning how to grow professionally. Be open to getting new school skills, taking courses. Be open to trying things new,” Davis said. “Making sure that you take care of yourself and making that a part of your day-to-day.  Maybe it’s going for a walk, maybe it’s listening to music — but knowing how to recharge yourself is very important. And just knowing that things are getting better over time, but they’re not going to change overnight until a lot of things change at the top.” 

 Davis also talked about the reason she wrote the book in an email.

 “I wrote this book because there is a generation struggling. A generation in enormous student loan debt, being underpaid and undervalued, so I wanted to encourage people to pursue their dreams but to think out of the box about what success and wellness could look like for themselves,” she said. “This is especially important for many of us who have entered helping professions such as social work, education, and public administration with the desire to move up the social, economic, and political ladder while also helping our communities. We are working in a system that has been rigged not to help the people but instead focus on profits. So, we must be creative in using our education and skills to build financial independence while not giving up hope on making a positive social change.” 

Protecting Your Mental Health While Black in the Workplace is available on Amazon and will be released on iTunes as an ebook February 2024.