I wrote a piece on black mental health before
I wish to revisit this topic in honor of mental health awareness month and on behalf of Black Brothers United
Please have an open mind while reading this
I do not have complete research on this topic. There are websites that can give you the reader better insight. I do not wish to sway anyone in any way. If you have questions after reading this please come respectfully to the comment section. Or do your own research on this matter.
Have you ever had an anxiety attack? Have you ever felt like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you can’t shrug it off? Have you ever, as a black woman or man been diagnosed with ADHD or schizophrenia, bipolar disorder? Have you ever attempted to tell your family members and they tell you to go to church or go outside?
Being black or any person of African descent we are subjugated to this plague of “not having mental health issues”. We are often sent to the church or to pray, or we’ll “get over it.” For so many black families, the avoidance of mental health issues is frequent and flagrant. And these are the families that are most exposed to environments that cause mental health issues.
I’m not an expert, but I do believe that the environments we live in as well as the pressure there is to being black causes severe mental health issues that linger long before they’re addressed. So many young black women and men have mental health issues that stem from the home. Low-income housing, one parent households, cramped living situations. Being poor and having to carry the mantle of getting the family out of poverty. Being around thugs, drugs and all the paraphernalia that comes with these things. Police brutality. harassment by whites. Second class citizenship. Racism. Lack of hope and structure in our communities. The list goes on and on when it comes to the factors of black mental health
NAMI, a mental health website states that 25% of African Americans seek professional help. This is in comparison to 40% of whites.
As black people, we are walking mental health problems. Many of us suffer from PTSD from watching our friends die to violence or committing suicide because they couldn’t live with their lives being poor and black.
Being black in America is troublesome and generates stress beyond belief.
On top of that, many young black youths turn to drugs to cope with their mental health issues. Me personally, I was on the borderline of alcoholism at one point in time. Many black youths turn to prescription drugs and cough syrup, alcohol, marijuana (even though I don’t believe it’s a drug personally). These are coping mechanisms to escape their harsh realities. With the growing impact of validation and social media, Black people are drowned even more in despair as they succumb to the need for instant gratification.
On top of that, we are faced with so many stigmas and toxic families. Men are set to a standard for their masculinity. They aren’t allowed to cry or emote. They are subjugated to express themselves through violence and jokes. Sensitivity is easily a weakness. women are set to standards as to what “ladylike” looks like. when we say we feel depressed it is often believed that we have ” the blues” and are told to ” get over it on our own”
Seeking help is also an issue, attached is a video above of Actress Taraji P. Henson who discusses her mental health issues and how she struggled to find a counselor who is culturally competent. When it comes to seeking help, there is a lack of diversity which is problematic for people of color. Being unable to explain our struggles to someone who can’t understand our trauma is troublesome and a reason as to why many black men and women don’t seek professional help.
This addresses the problem that so many of us face. Because of this many black men and women don’t express their mental health issues in healthy manners. This topic is something we need to talk about. This is the problem. It isn’t addressed healthily or discussed as much as it should. Especially in the black community. We can’t express ourselves at home, which has become problematic. This translates to the outside world where we ventilate our stress in poisonous ways. We refuse to seek help because we can’t find those that look like us or we choose to “deal with it on our own”. We are a plagued people.
Attached is mental health therapist Chante Meadows’ TED talk on black mental health.
This is a conversation that needs to be addressed. I cannot stress it enough. Mental health for black folks is a 400-year-old battle that will last if we don’t fight it now. Hiding our mental will not solve the problem.
Me personally, I’ve struggled with mental health issues since I was 11. I had no idea what it was at the time. I suffer from anxiety and depression. For the longest time, I didn’t love myself. I spent years trying to prove my worth to people and being unbelievably lazy. I have long nights, I over think situations, I rush everything and I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. How do I cope? as I said before I used to drink. During my undergraduate years, I would consume alcohol as if it were a common drink and stay in my room for long hours in the day. There was a severe lack of self-love and care that I am beginning to change now. I’m beginning to face my trauma head-on and although I’m not seeking counseling, that should not deter any of you from.
Seeking counseling is difficult, as I stated before. Especially for black women and men. This is mainly because of the factors that go into the mental psyche of black people. Also, we as a people can’t find too many counselors that look like us, being black. Or can relate to our struggles. This is a deterrent for many of us. With that being said, seek help from a professional. If you do happen to find a black one, I commend you
To anyone reading this, if you see a friend looking upset or hurt or closing themselves off, reach out. You never know what’s going on in their heads.
Here is to mental health awareness month. I wish anyone dealing with mental health issues a speedy recovery.
Here’s more information if anyone needs it
Here is a hotline for help if anyone needs it.
Here is a site that finds black professionals
Thank you Black brothers united for allowing me to create and share this post
please follow their Instagram page @Blackbrothersunited