For years mental illness has been a serious, yet taboo, issue in the black community. While many families avoid conversations about mental illness, it is a common issue in many households that often gets swept under the rug, forcing us and others to just shrug it off as a “white people” problem.
Mental Illness is real and is not a luxury concern that’s simply for white people. While we may grow up with our families telling us that mental illness is not real, as they simultaneously drill in our heads that religion cures all, the statistics show us something different.
When held alongside actual facts about the issue, it becomes clear that mental health is a serious issue for black people too. Here’s 5 reasons why:
Miseducated– Many do not know or understand the mental illness that they are experiencing within themselves or with a loved one. You have to be educated about the different types of mental issues such as causes, side effects, or if medication is required. Knowledge is power and we all need to have an understanding of what is present and how to handle these situations.
Ashamed– Mental Illness is nothing to be ashamed of. The first step is acknowledging the problem and accepting it. We all go through things in life and handle each situation differently. Take it day by day and find someone that you can communicate with on a regular basis. The thoughts and feelings will become easier to process as long as you are able to let out the emotions that you are feeling.
In 2015, our former first lady Michelle Obama addressed the need to reduce the stigma by getting professional help when needed.
“There should be absolutely no stigma around mental health,” she said at a recent mental health summit. “None. Zero. … It’s time to tell everyone who’s dealing with a mental health issue that they’re not alone, and that getting support and treatment isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”
Denial -Our grandparents and parents are partially the reason why many of us are in denial about mental illnesses. They want you to understand that nothing is wrong with you and if you go to church, you can pray “those demons” away. Once family begin to ignore the illness, you begin to feel the same way and ignore the issues. Do not ignore…Do what is best for your health!
Ego– In the black community, many do not want to acknowledge the mental illnesses that they face because of their pride. If they tell others what they are facing, judgement comes into play. No one wants to be judged on what they are going through. Take it one day at a time and do not feel that you have to hide your illness from others. There’s this notion that if you are suffering from a mental illness, you are not a strong black man/woman. This is far from the truth. You are strong because you faced your truth and you’re handling it the best way you can.
Mental Illness is real and we must treat it accordingly. Find someone that you can talk to, write in a journal, or see a doctor. Acknowledge your illness and remember the strong are never afraid to ask for help!