Unpacking the Harmful Effects of Hustle Culture on Black Mental Health

black man asleep at desk with cup in hand and laptop open
Alyssa Guznik
May 2, 2023

The dream may be free, but the hustle is sold separately. Time and again, for generations now, we’ve been taught that hustle is the only way to get ahead. Hustle culture has helped some of us advance in life, but at what cost?

The American Institute of Stress found that “after including factors such as absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, increased medical costs, and legal costs, the total economic impact of stress to US employers was estimated at $300 billion.”

The costs to Black mental health are even worse.

We face pressures to overcome stereotypes and constantly have our achievements invalidated. This triggers heightened anxiety and an inability to slow down and rest. The avalanche effect this has on our physical and mental health leads to health issues, absenteeism from work, and burnout.

The stress we’ve been under since the genesis of the pandemic has caused countless Black folks to take up multiple jobs to survive. Yet for every 47 cents spent on treating depression, another 53 cents is indirectly spent on absenteeism, presenteeism, and disability. This isn’t sustainable.

While hustle culture has gotten a few of us to prominence in America, it’s also killing us. It’s important to push ourselves to achieve more and better ourselves and our communities, but not at the expense of our health. After all, health and wealth are intrinsically linked.

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