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How 'superwoman schema' is burdening black women with unresolved mental health issues

Glenda, like many black women, has lost bonds with loved ones while trying to handle it all without realizing how much it affected her mental health.

How 'superwoman schema' is burdening black women with unresolved mental health issues
Cover Image Source: YouTube| Good Morning America

Even though mental health is being talked about, various fragments of the same are not fully explored yet. Minorities and diverse groups face more trials when it comes to mental health due to their unseen problems that the world is unaware of. Good Morning America revealed the concept of “superwoman schema,” a mental health condition black women suffer from and the need to speak out and provide for the same. The condition was explained with the help of 61-year-old Glenda Boone and her family’s story. The woman mentioned that her firstborn estranged herself from the family and while Glenda blamed several people and things for the same, her second daughter Lauren explained that it was due to emotional unavailability.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Alex Green
Representative Image Source: Pexels| Alex Green

Lauren revealed that though the parents were physically present and providing for their kids, they weren’t emotionally present and it took a toll on the kids’ mental health. “I never thought about taking care of my mental health because my generation was taught that when you talk about mental health, you automatically think of mental illness,” Glenda said. She revealed that her lack of knowledge about mental health led her to confine her emotions and suck up whatever she was feeling from a young age. That’s where the tragic superwoman schema or SWS comes into the picture.

The National Institutes of Health describes the condition as a need to confine and restrict one’s emotions to oneself and never express and depend on anyone when it comes to the more fragile or negative emotions. The whole idea of being strong is confused as suppressing one’s emotions and putting on a tough look despite the struggle. Dr. Zoeann Finzi-Adams, a licensed psychologist and assistant professor at Howard University shared her input on the condition and said that a person dealing with SWS feels the need to take care of everything by themselves. “Everything that comes my way, I should be able to handle it. And that's exhausting because no one can do everything. No one can, and that is such a big barrier to getting any kind of support,” the psychologist said.

Having this unrealistic burden to deal with alone, Glenda was damaging her relationships without even knowing it. Her daughters suggested she seek help from a therapist to avoid losing more precious bonds at the risk of a misconception causing a grave mental health issue. Glenda moved forward to fix and heal from her SWS to keep her bond with Lauren and somehow retrieve the one with her firstborn as well. Her therapy sessions greatly helped her and her family. “I learned how to remove the mask. I was allowed to free myself, release myself,” Glenda said.

She added, “The mask of superwoman was mine. I could be all things to all people …. But my daughters let me know, and Lauren in particular… ‘You were there. But you weren’t present.’” Lauren was utterly grateful to get back that bond to be able to speak and connect with her mother. “We think that everything’s fine with our child,” Glenda said. “So, when stuff happens, normally, it’s a crisis, so we think it’s that event that caused it when in actuality, it wasn’t. Our children might have been trying to communicate something to us before and we weren’t listening,” Glenda pointed out. The SWS is a condition many women face but all that one’s got to do is gradually break down the misconception that they’re alone and seek help.


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