Black mental health is another topic that has so much contradictory information floating around. In the black community mental health isn’t talked about enough. It brings about the stigma that to talk about someone having a mental illness is to see them as having a personal weakness. “The root of mental health stigma among Black people can be traced back to slavery. At that time it was commonly thought that slaves were not sophisticated enough to develop depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders” (McLean, 2022). It is truly disheartening that black people are not praised for seeking help instead they are judged.
Black men are seen as strong unbreakable beings. A man let alone a black man isn’t supposed to shed a tear and going to therapy is seen as weak. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Everyone has their breaking point, and it is better to seek out help rather than hold it inside until you explode.
I saw a video on Facebook where a mother said she practices 5-minute breaks with her daughter. As a single mother, she occasionally gets overwhelmed, upset, or just plain tired and needs a moment to herself to decompress. She taught her daughter how to give her a few moments to be alone and practices it, not just when she’s in need but on a weekly basis.
The mother stated that this way she doesn’t take her frustrations from the day out on her daughter and is given the time she needs to collect herself to be the mother she needs to be. On one hand, some parents agree and think that this is a smart idea. On the other hand, there are parents that don’t understand why this new generation needs to take breaks from their kids.
These stigmas cause black people to ignore the signs of mental health or blame any change in temperament on stress and lack of sleep. The so-called “stress” and “tiredness” will eventually cause the person to burst from holding so much in.
The black community has unequal access to black mental health and health care. Typically, the black community does not seek out care for fear of cultural insensitivity. To speak about childhood trauma, indirect and direct trauma especially when said trauma circles around the black experience it’s easier to talk to someone who has an inkling of what you may be feeling.
“According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Black youth who are exposed to violence are at a greater risk for PTSD by over 25%. Black Americans are also more likely to be exposed to factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition, such as homelessness and exposure to violence”(ADAA, 2022).
Black people are constantly feeling like they have to hide their true emotions. Black women are consistently labeled as angry black women that they feel like expressing their distaste or when they feel wronged.
And the stereotype that black men fear real emotion. Men worried about what they would look like. And women sometimes do not help the situation. I have heard women say that they want men to talk about their feelings but as soon as that man starts to cry or show too much “sensitivity” the women are turned off and look at the men as weak.
Take the time to make sure that you are mentally healthy. Even a job you love will start to wear on your mental health when the pressure becomes too much. They can find a replacement for you but your family can’t. Take your sick days and talk to someone about your stress. Your mental health matters, your feelings matter. But most importantly, you matter.
McLean. (2022, January 19). How can we break mental health barriers in communities of color? How Can We Break Mental Health Barriers in Communities of Color? | McLean Hospital. Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/how-can-we-break-mental-health-barriers-communities-color
Mental Health Resources for the Black Community: Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. Mental Health Resources for the Black Community | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA. (2022). Retrieved February 7, 2022, from https://adaa.org/find-help/by-demographics/black-african-american-communities
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