Educating, normalizing, and advocating for mental health in the Black community.
Mental Health is a combination of your emotional, pyschological, and social well being which impacts how we think, feel, and act. According to mentalhealth.gov, our mental health determines how we handle stress, react to others and situations, and make life choices. Throughout the course of our lives, starting in childhood, we experience circumstances in life that can affect our mental health. Such circumstances include poverty, bullying, death, witnessing domestic violence, emotional abuse, and much more. When we experience such events, it creates stress and alters our mental state. Once the stress is experienced, our moods change, behaviors increase, and our thinking is not logical. Other factors that contribute to our mental health includes biological make-up (genetics), and family history of mental health.
African Americans have faced many trials as an ethnic group for centuries. The most prominent trial beginning with slavery, followed by post-slavery racism, Tulsa Race Massacre, Jim Crow laws, the Birmingham church bombing, Rodney King, police brutality, plus more. While these are only a few traumatic experiences that the black community has faced over time, some of these events have been re-experienced which causes continuous traumatic stress. As a result of undergoing trauma as a group, along with unmet needs and barriers, African Americans have more severe forms of mental health conditions. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 10% more likely to experience serious psychological distress.
African Americans, like many minority communities, are also more likely to experience socioeconomic disparities such as exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources. These disparities may contribute to worse mental health outcomes.
For African American adults, perception and experience with racism may cause mental health symptoms similar to trauma. This could lead to some physical health disparities between blacks and other populations in the United States, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association. African Americans’ psychological responses to racism are very similar to common responses to trauma, such as interpersonal sensitivity, anxiety, difficulty regulating emotions, hypervigilance, fear, dissociation, depression, etc.
Myth- “Ain’t nothing wrong with you. You’ll be alright.”
Truth- They are not ok. Their tears, isolation, consistent sadness, insomnia, lack of appetite, constant fidgeting, strange behaviors, etc. is AFFECTING THEM GREATLY! This is a cry out for help!
Myth- “Just pray about it.”
Truth- Yes, the black community has a strong faith base and prayer does work! However, prayer requires action behind it. If you pray that your mood increases, what actions are YOU taking to increase those moods? You can pray AND cope. You can also have Jesus and a therapist too!
Myth- “The past is the past
Truth- THE LIES!! As long as the past is negatively effecting you in your present life, it is important to address it in the NOW. It does not matter how long ago the trauma occurred, address it anyway so that you can process those feelings and begin to heal. It is never too late to address your past trauma.
Myth- “What happens in our house, stays in our house.”
Truth- Absolutely not!! Sometimes, what happens in our house causes depression, cutting, suicidal thoughts, bulimia, anxiety, etc. because we do not address the trauma that occurs behind closed doors. Why leave it there if the people who are in that house are hurting you and not helping you heal? LET IT OUT! If the individuals who are supposed to protect you are not doing so, talk to someone who you feel safe with. Also, stop punishing your loved ones for being brave enough to discuss their truth. You may not understand it, but support them during their healing process. They need it.
Coping skills are activities that you partake in to increase your mood when triggered. Here are a few suggestions for both children and adults:
Looking for a therapist? Here are a few sites where you can find a black therapist that is ready and willing to help you heal.
**DUE TO COVID-19, SOME THERAPISTS ARE LOWERING RATES**