Teetering On The Edge


How Society Impacts On Black Women’s Mental Health
By Maizie Richards Reid

ISBN: 978-1-78382-253-9
Published: 2016
Pages: 391
Key Themes: Mental Health, Sociology, Race


This book attempts to address issues that generally impacts on the lives of black women, of Caribbean descent in Britain.

These were examined through life history approach, which bring to the fore their experiences that laid dormant, gone unnoticed, while in appearing to be missing from history. Yet these factors are of great significance in understanding the major obstacles that is known to be an historical factor in the life and the understanding of black people’s experiences.

The correlation in terms of mental health and related social issues gathered from data, are measures of Childhood experiences, cultural transition, social and psychological factors that can easily interfere with one’s life performances especially if that is allowed.

Black women are especially at risk from poor mental health due to those multilayered realities that include the lack of prestigious occupation, associated with unequal access up the promotional ladder, together with other multifaceted realities that may have affected their performance in compromise to their health and their ability to withstand outside influences that deter progress.

The determinants factors with women and their aspirations to achieve in life despite the dilemmas of social issues as, racism and discrimination is one that permeates if not all, the chapters of the thesis.

The study hope to provide answers that is not commensurable with other studies, but should be a useful tool for those within the black community, policy makers and organisation that are responsible and committed to providing an ethical sensitive service from black perspectives.

About the Author

Maizie Richards Reid was born and raised in Jamaica, where as part of her schooling, she attended the West Indian Training College now known as Northern Caribbean University. Shortly after her schooling, she came to South Yorkshire, England in 1961 in pursuit of a nursing career, as a fulfilment of her life-long dream.

Driven by her experiences in the field of nursing and social work, Maizie’s experiences were similar to those of the many women who came from the Caribbean to train as state register nurse, (SRN), but was instead directed to the state enrolled (SEN) training. Her limited knowledge of the health system at the time created not only a sense of lost and helplessness, but disappointed’’ by negative promises, in pursuant of the intended career, created a determination in her to enrol at another hospital to commence training, was a stepping stone for her. In embarking on training in paediatric nursing, she became more aware of the surmountable social problems that negatively impacted on the lives of various community members. This was evident through admitted cases of non-accidental injuries sustained by family members. This experience challenged her to change from a nursing career to the field of social care intervention, through which she felt could affect change. Furthermore, Maizie worked as a social worker practitioner and counsellor for over 20 years with her Local Authorities. First, she functioned as a preventative mental health specialist and then as an adult mental health social worker for the African Caribbean community.

She is one of the founder members of the Sheffield African Caribbean Mental Health Association (SACHMA), an organisation that seeks to address the social, mental and psychological needs of African-Caribbean people who are diagnosed with mental challenges. Additionally, her extensive knowledge, skills and experience in the areas of mental health, and the under-researched area of African-Caribbean women’s mental health, led to her embarking on research in this topic at the University f Sheffield in pursuit of a PhD degree. She has twenty-one (21) years of service as a magistrate on the Sheffield Bench.

Book Extract

The study explores two issues: the issues that are connected to the life experiences of Black Women in Britain; in particular Black professional women of Caribbean descent and the complex life factors that can easily impact on people’s life in relation to their mental health.

Within the life history arena, the study seeks to examine the role of education and employment as it relates to public perception and behaviours towards black women, tainted with Institutional racism.

I have, over the years struggled to find reason or answers as to why even in the twenty first century, black women or people of colour are still being marginalised. They appear to occupy society’s denigrated roles and their voices remain in some sense silent.

The study in essence is an exploration of the lives of black women in Britain. This kind of exploration will undoubtedly be seen as political and challenging, as the varying views, experiences and examples of black women’s lives in Britain is unfold. Even so I seek to examine the arguments, which define the contributory factors of health that are of much concern, not only for the women in question, but the wider community.

Therefore, I strive to pursue areas of women’s life experiences and noted periods in their life that could impact on people’s health in general with particular attention to those in question.

The matters cannot possible be viewed in a social vacuum. Every avenue needs to be explored, according to Fernando (1995). Exploration is even more significant in a diversified community.

Having the recognition that Black women’s life can and is influenced by collective factors; such as the adverse personal, political, factors, heighten by gender, class and the visibility of racial prejudice and discrimination in a society to an extent, also form part of their life study.

Researching the life of Black women of Caribbean descent in Britain is historical and does not negate the experiences of other black women whose existence is global and share factors as: social class, age place of origin, and spatial locality that inform their experiences, one that is not unique. There are other groups that bear semblance; but it is not my intent to cover all groups. It would not be possible to give credence to all or represent the voices of all.

The Black women experiences are just as numerous, varied and such that is impossible to ignore. Secondly, an attempt to deal with the experiences of all black women would indeed lead to homogeneousness. Hence the reason for this select group.

The awareness of the volumes of material documenting the struggles of women and for some time, black women have relied on the version of their stories being conveyed by others, (Bryan et al 1985; Lorde 1984; White 1994) as white sociologists, psychologists, historians and others who deemed it an interesting subject. Bryan et al (1985) further posit that despite the effort of the few black men and white women in Britain who tried to ensure the voices of black women were no longer hidden from history, there remained a gaping silence from the women themselves. It would appear they were resigned to the fact of not being heard, and have given up trying to tell their stories, or self-believed they have no story worth telling; a people with no history according to Douglas (1992).

In later years Black American women writers as Maya Angelou, Barbara Christian, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Paula Marshall, Toni Morrison, and several others knew it was time for them to say who they are and used this measure of inclusion in their creation of literature.

We acknowledged that black women in general have an affinity in life, but the women normally focus more on their experience in their country and not on that of black women in Britain. This is understandable and thus the onus is on each group to ensure her stories is told by those who knows it best.

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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 21 January, 2016.