Fight the stigma
As millennials we shouldn’t keep quiet about mental illness. As black folk we shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed to have a mental illness. African Americans are 20% more likely to suffer from a mental illness then the general population. Adult African Americans who are living below poverty are three times more likely to report having a serious mental anguish than those living above poverty. Black people are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites. So why are black men and women told to “man up” or to just suck up our feelings?
Most black men are particularly concerned about stigma. Sadness shouldn’t be brushed off. A lot of black men suffer from major depressive disorder and don’t even know it. Recently Hip pop/Rap artist Kid Kudi revealed he was hospitalized to treat his depression. He apologized for having to take time off to deal with his depression. No one should apologize for dealing with a mental illness. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders. In a 2013 study Earlise Ward and Maigenete Mengensha they examined and focused their critical review on depression among African American men. Their goal was identify the prevalence of depression, risk factors, treatment seeking behaviors and treatment –seeking barriers. Approximately 5-10% of African American men have depression. They face a number of risk factors and show evidence low use of mental health services. Depression is a disorder that can grow fast and lead to death if not treated soon enough. Two- thirds of people that died from suicide had depression. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among black men from ages 15-24, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Untimely deaths highlight a growing problem in black communities. A lot of people are apprehensive about seeking professional help for mental health issues.
Black people from the day they are born are being pressured to be the best from their families and from society. We live in a society where white privilege is effecting our youth in a big way. This can be a reason why young African American people go through depression. They go through the feeling of not being enough very early on in life. Most young black kids are expected to fail; to become a part of the statistic. Those that live in low-income neighborhoods aren’t expected to not move on from those neighborhoods.
Banks, Kohn-Wood,& Spencer, 2006 study examined discrimination, specific anxiety and depressive symptoms. They used gender as mediator. The sample had 570 adult participants, of 390 were black men. The results showed that black men detected more everyday discrimination than black women. No differences were found in depressive symptoms across genders. Some young African Americans hold on to so much anger and become disruptive students in school. During your late teens and early 20s is when a mental illness manifests. Many people are going through it and aren’t seeking help.
Black/ African Americans today are over-represented in jails and prisons. They make up 60 percent of the prison population. People realize they just aren’t sad and that it can be something more. They realize that they just aren’t having mood swings and whatever it is, is affecting their judgment and lives.
Young black professionals go through mental health concerns in the workplace as well. From being over worked and stress from wanting to be the best employee. Regardless of the education or economical background black people are suffering in silence. African Americans with higher levels of education are less likely to seek mental health services than those of other races. Those that do try to seek help feel as if therapists can be racist or experience mircoaggressions. Many may experience this because they feel as if they can’t connect with the therapist on a cultural level.
Expressing oneself can be viewed a weakness. Stigma and judgment prevent black people from looking for the help they need. Most believe that having mild depression or anxiety is considered to be crazy in most social circles. Many believe that even the discussion about mental illness wouldn’t even appropriate among their families. Mental health should be very important to all of us. Being able to go to school or work with a clear mind should be a priority. Advocating about mental health in black communities should be a must.
Ward, E., & Mengesha, M. (2013). Depression in African American Men: A Review of What We Know and Where We Need to Go From Here. The American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 83(2 0 3), 386–397. http://doi.org/10.1111/ajop.12015
Depression and Suicide Among Black Men in College. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2016, from https://www.psychiatry.org/news-room/apa-blogs/apa-blog/2016/05/depression-and-suicide-among-black-men-in-college
Banks KH, Kohn-Wood LP, Spencer M. An examination of the African American experience of everyday discrimination and symptoms of psychological distress. Community Mental Health Journal. 2006;42:555–570.
Depression And African Americans. (n.d.). Retrieved November 16, 2016, from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-and-african-americans