Many in the black community turn to drugs and or alcohol rather than seeking professional help because of the negative stigma surrounding mental health. Despite the fact that blacks are 20% more likely to suffer from mental illness most still consider it to be a “white person’s disease”. Major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and suicide are all common mental health disorders surrounding African Americans.
Even with all of what we know associated with mental health and our communities there are factors which deter us from seeking professional help.
Faith and Spirituality
Spirituality and family tends to be the main source of support and strength among the black community. Although faith and spirituality will help coping with mental illness, this should not be the only option you choose. I was raised in a Christian household and understand the importance of prayer and having faith but I was also taught that “faith without works is dead.”
Misunderstanding About Mental Health
Mental illness in the black community is taboo and is often times looked upon as a sign of weakness. Many are ashamed because of the stigma associated with the disease and won’t recognize the signs and may not always be clear in knowing where to find help. Depression and anxiety is real and most times require the help of a professional and is nothing to be ashamed of.
Access to Mental Health Services
Studies show that 11% of African Americans did not have any form of insurance in 2017 which means socio-economics may have been a huge factor in treatment options.
The black community has also seen a negative impact of prejudice and discrimination in the health care system so this has caused some distrust preventing our people from seeking or staying in treatment.
Mental illness should not be taken lightly and can’t be handled without some form of treatment. A mental health provider will be essential in treatment so communicate well with your doctor and be completely honest with what you are feeling. It’s time that we break the cycle of silencing mental illness in our communities. We must acknowledge that prioritizing your needs pertaining to mental health is a sign of strength rather weakness.