Educating the Black Community on Mental Health

By: Melissa Javier

IG: bettering_you2 + mellyyy.melll

Twitter: @tehe_itsmel

Mental illness is seen as a stigma in the black community. Most of black people suffers in silence because they are ashamed of what others would think of them. We shouldn’t keep quiet about mental illness. 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. The majority have unidentified mental illnesses. Most believe that they are going through fazes and that whatever they are going through will pass. There is a low use of mental health services amongst black people. Recently this has been normalized by our music culture. Things like depression and social anxiety is very common amongst our black youths. Artist like Lil Uzi Vert and Kanye West speak about some mental illness in their songs. They have become major influencers for our youth.

Black teens are given pressure from their families in terms of graduating high school or completing a degree. We are expected to be failures by some. We are all very pressured by society to be the best in all we do. We are glorified because of our athleticism and our culture yet the struggles we had to endure to get to we are in life are rarely spoken about.

There is a low use of mental health services amongst black people. Adults and youth should be educated on the resources that are available to them in their areas. This can be because of many things. One can be that we would want to be able to identify ourselves with our therapist. There isn’t enough therapist of color. As humans in general we tend to gravitate ourselves towards people who are similar to us. I believe it’s very important that the black community we advocate for the use of mental health services. Adults and youth should be educated on the resources that are available to them in their areas. A great resource out there is therapyforblackgirls.com. You can find black women therapist in your area. There are also podcasts on the website that talk about topics that go on in the black community.

Nowadays a drake lyric is always referenced back to us when we express any type of emotion. A lot of people see expressing yourself as a weakness. Judgement from others prevents us from looking for help or talking about what maybe bothering us. Having a mental illness can be considered to be taboo in social circles. Most of us would even consider the topic of mental health/illness inappropriate for our families; which can be unfortunate. Our families and friends should be people that we go to during times of despair. Openness and communication is definitely something that can help improve the way mental health/illness is viewed in the black community.

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