October 10 is World Mental Health Day

October 10 is World Mental Health Day

Navigating Challenges as Black STEM Professionals

Today, as the world observes Mental Health Day, it’s a poignant reminder for all of us, especially within the black STEM community, to acknowledge the importance of mental health. In our challenging professional landscapes, rife with issues like discrimination, microaggressions, impostor syndrome, and a lack of representation, our mental well-being often bears the brunt. These struggles, if left unaddressed, can lead to burnout, a debilitating state that drains us physically, emotionally, and mentally, affecting both our performance and happiness.

A study conducted by the American Society of Civil Engineers sheds light on the alarming reality within our field. The prevalence of “mood disturbance” in engineering industries is a staggering 2.5 times higher than the general population, with a shocking 45% of respondents meeting the criteria for burnout. Disturbingly, black engineers are less likely to seek the professional help they need, a concerning statistic that exacerbates our symptoms and conditions.

In the face of these challenges, it becomes crucial for us to navigate our paths thoughtfully and prevent burnout. Here are some practical tips tailored to our unique experiences:

  1. Find Mentorship: Seek guidance from individuals who have walked the same path as you. Their wisdom can provide invaluable advice and motivation, reminding you that you’re not alone in this journey.
  2. Build Community: Connect with organizations like NSBE Boston or other supportive communities. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals offers not just professional opportunities, but also the social and emotional support necessary to thrive.
  3. Set Boundaries: Learn the power of saying no. Setting healthy boundaries is essential. Recognize when you’re feeling overwhelmed and grant yourself the permission to step back.
  4. Celebrate Your Victories: Acknowledge your achievements, regardless of how small they might seem. Recognizing your strengths and contributions can boost your confidence and resilience.
  5. Seek Professional Help: If you find yourself battling depression, anxiety, or stress, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance. Numerous resources, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM), are dedicated to supporting black mental health.

And if, despite all efforts, you still find yourself struggling, consider changing your environment. At NSBE Boston, we are proud to partner with organizations that champion diversity and inclusion. Our upcoming career fair on October 27th is an excellent opportunity for you to connect with these employers firsthand. Engage in one-on-one conversations, explore new prospects, and network with professionals who understand your experiences and aspirations. Register for free here, and take a step towards a more supportive future.

On this World Mental Health Day, let’s not just raise awareness but also foster a community where our mental health is a priority. Together, we can create a workplace that values not just our skills but also our well-being.


Your gift helps fulfill our mission to graduate 10,000 black engineers by 2025. Learn more about the Inspire STEM Gala on our website!