The Hidden Stigma In The Black Community
Opening up the discussion for mental health awareness in the Black community
Whether it was Slavery, Jim Crow, The Crack Epidemic, or Mass Incarceration, the suffering that Black people endured seems to have been never-ending. With that being said, the trauma that many of us have faced since the beginning of modern western civilization takes its toll on one’s mental health.
Mental Health Awareness In The Black Community
The stigma of dealing with the continuous cycle of the demonization of addressing one’s mental health in the Black community is one that prevents those seeking help to enhance their lives and, in some cases, to save them. Toxic masculinity is another contribution to this stigma as Black children, especially little boys, are told that expressing any sort of emotion is a sign of weakness. This conditioning can harbor psychological health issues for years to come.
According to the US HHS Office of Minority Health, adult African-Americans are 20% more likely to state that they are suffering from psychological distress than their adult white counterparts. This is due to less than 2% of the American Psychological Association being African-American, which leads many African-Americans to distrust mental health care practitioners to help them with their issues.
Destroying The Stigma Behind Mental Health
Personally, I’ve dealt with my fair share of mental health issues during my 27 years on this planet. I’ve battled depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety and still do, occasionally, as I write this article to you. I shared my experience in a poem I wrote called “Taboo” from my book Death of the Stereotype. The one thing I do is express what’s going on with me to family and friends who support me and aren’t judgmental towards my struggles.
Now I know that it isn’t professional help, but sometimes just knowing that you have a support system of people that love and care about you is more than enough to overcome the struggles with mental health. A solution that could change this issue when it comes to Black citizens addressing their mental health, for one, is a more open dialogue regarding this issue.
Education is another tool to address mental health. For example, by knowing the signs of someone experiencing PTSD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, etc. The following is a list of organizations that help African-Americans deal with mental health issues:
By educating ourselves and promoting better communication, together we can end the stigma of mental illness in the Black community.
How else can we raise awareness about mental health in African-Americans? Let us know down in the comments.