let’s talk about it: mental health in the Black community

 

BMH Matters Resize

It is no secret that mental health is often dismissed and ignored by the Black community.

“Depression is for White people.” “Just pray about it.” “There are people who have it much worse that you do.” and the worst one, “Just think happy thoughts! :)” are all phrases that individuals struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems are all extremely tired of hearing. The truth of the matter is the stigma and refusal to talk about mental illness in the Black community is taking lives and preventing our loved ones from getting the treatment they need.

Facts about Mental Health in the Black Community:*

  • 6.8 million African Americans have been diagnosed with mental illness and that doesn’t include those who are unwilling to seek help.
  • Adults in the Black community are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness than adults in the white community.
  • Black teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide (8.2%) than are white teenagers (6.3%).

Want more information on the stereotypes surrounding black mental illness? Check out Black Folk Don’t Go to Therapy.

Stop looking at mental illness as weakness. Depression is a real chemical imbalance of the brain that causes extreme sadness and affects how you feel and operate on a daily basis. Anxiety involves excessive fear and nervousness and can be extremely crippling. For a large amount of people within the Black community, society & the generations before us have taught us to suppress these feelings and innermost thoughts which only leads to the condition getting worse.

The stigma behind mental health in the Black community cannot be conquered until we’re able to openly admit and be attentive to the fact that it exists.

To those fortunate enough to have never experienced mental illness: if you’re not familiar with depression, anxiety or other mental illnesses or it’s something you don’t understand, recognize that in the event someone comes to you for help. Don’t try to cure them because you can’t. Don’t make jokes about it because it’s not funny. Don’t treat it lightly or brush it off because it’s serious. Be someone who encourages and uplifts the ones you love during the times when they feel they have no one.

Black men and women, you don’t have to be strong all the time. Your feelings are valid. You don’t have to suffer in silence. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Allow yourself to feel. Listen to your body and what it’s asking for. Get the help you need. Find a support system of people who love you and care, whether that’s through friends and family or a therapist or both. Find what brings you peace and run after that.

Black men and women, as much as we’re led to believe we are, we are not wired to be invincible and that is okay.

love always. 

Bria

*Statistics come from the United States Census Bureau and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Mental Health.

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