black mental health matters

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The feeling of overwhelming  pressure in your life. Pressure to be successful for your parent’s satisfaction. Falling into Depression, PTSD, anxiety, committing suicide because of the pressure, ADHD and so on. The most significant part about it, is being told that it’s nothing by the ones you love. “Get over it” they’ll say, “there’s nothing to to be stressed about we have bigger issues”. “You don’t have a mental health issue you just need to pray.” “Go outside or to your room for a little while you”ll be okay”. These are some of the lines our parents have said to us growing up. These are some of the challenges faced by those in the Black community that are limited by a mental health issue. This is an issue that has plagued the black community for years. If not addressed soon and stopped, the cycle will continue.

Don’t get me wrong, having mental health issues is not an excuse to stop black people’s success. However, it is a factor that needs addressing fast. African Americans are under enormous amounts of stress due to a myriad of factors that includes  pressure to be successful from parents, poverty, homelessness,  and hopelessness. The after effects of slavery, incarceration rates, inability of forward upward mobility, pressure to leave the problems of their communities, and the list goes on. A lot of African american children come from poverty stricken homes in problematic areas. The pressure to get out of these neighborhoods can be thrown on these kids early and will be a weight on their shoulders their whole lives. This can cause significant amounts of stress on them resulting in a mental health disorder. Children in the black community can be witnesses or victims of violence and physical or mental/ verbal abuse. These affects may linger and cause mental health issues such as anxiety, or depression. learning about African and African american history can place immense amounts of stress, anxiety, and a list of emotions for black children that can lead to mental health problems. These problems aren’t limiters, yet they are significant obstacles that these children and adults face in their lives. We don’t make excuses in the black community, however we do need to understand these problems. the problems we face mentally are just as significant or more significant than the environmental problems we face.

According to http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net, of the 13.2% of  the US population is African American. Of that percentage around 16% faced mental health issues in 2014. That’s estimated to be around 6.8 million people. A number far too high to be overshadowed. The website also claims that social-economic factors, or lack there of, plus the post effects of slavery can cause mental health issues. All stated previously. the website states  that racism holds a significant power over the black community when it comes to mental health. black people face stereotypes and verbal and physical abuse from their racist attackers which can lead to mental stress. African Americans are 20% more likely to report or experience mental health issues than other demographics, especially white Americans. African Americans are more likely to experience hopelessness, sadness, and worthlessness than their white counterparts. 8.3% of African Americans commit suicide, more than the 6.2% of white Americans. Schizophrenia is twice as much more frequent in black communities than whites. Black people are more likely to experience PTSD from violent childhoods. This information is not designed to divide or ask for sympathy. however it is meant to reveal the disparities and trouble that is black mental health and how it MUST be addressed with more care. These are the numbers and the troubles African Americans face and the effects are staggering and can be life long.

This is no cry for sympathy or empathy. This is a revelation of the problems that plague our communities. The real problem lies in the avoidance in treating such problems. We as black people brush off mental health too much. Some turn to weed, or drugs, or alcohol. Some, like myself choose to face the issue head on without help from an outside source. Some choose god or some other form of spirituality. Some go see professional help. As children growing up, we are told that our metal health is all in our head and that we need to find a way to distress. that we must get out of our heads. This isn’t an easy task. depression and anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, schizophrenia, and on are REAL mental health problems that must be taken seriously in the black community. it wields just as much weight as the poverty, the violence, the drug problems, the post slavery, the post Jim crow, gentrification, red-lining, discrimination and so on. We as black people must address these problems as significant issues. any part of the body can get sick, including the brain. and brain sickness can lead to other body parts getting sick or worse. If you suffer from a mental health disorder, find a means to deal with it, make it positive, go seek professional help. there is a problem in that, professional help can be too expensive, and black people can be too prideful to go get some. however Black mental health matters. don’t brush it off as if it will go away tomorrow. Face it head on, with help from others, and when someone says their depressed, or constantly anxious, we as black people must address it immediately and find ways to defeat it without running away.

 

Adonis Richards,

truly yours

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