Why Black Mental Health Mattered, Matters, and Will Always Matter

Why Black Mental Health Mattered, Matters, and Will Always Matter

 

Hi everyone, I’m Thy! :) Today’s my first day publishing here in The Journal. You’ll be hearing from me at least once a week, so get excited! Some of you may know me, and some of you may not—to those who do, hi friend! To those who don’t, hi, nice to meet you, I hope you enjoy my writing

 

I love writing and believe it to be one of the best forms of expression and conversation. I am also passionate about racial justice and other racial issues such as discrimination, stereotyping, mental health disparity, and identity issues. As a writer, I use my skills and platform with the goal to promote conversation and education on these racial issues. My latest writing projects include publishing a book about my immigrant journey (Origins: An Immigrant’s Journey in America) and amplifying BIPOC voices through sharing their stories. 


With everything that’s been happening in our world today, it is more critical now than ever to use our voices to speak out against important issues.

 

Today, I’m talking specifically about why Black mental health matters in honor of the Black Lives Matter movement and Minority Mental Health month. Now, I’m not Black, but silence towards Black mental health and why it matters is not an option. So today, on the first entry of The Journal, I am choosing to speak up.


Amid the Black Lives Matter movement, Black voices have finally been amplified. These Black stories that are being shared create a much needed racial narrative that has been glossed over in the history of America; more and more, recognition of racism, microaggressions, and personal experiences are being exposed. It is essential to realize the role that racism plays in mental health--how would someone feel to be discriminated against? How would someone feel to be oppressed based on the color of their skin? The intersection of racism against Black people and their mental health is rooted in systemic racism and socioeconomic disparities.


Some Hidden Facts 

  • As of 2018, more than 1 in 5 Black people in the U.S lived in poverty
    • Historical racism and systemic racism that includes slavery, sharecropping, racial exclusion from health, educational, social, and economic resources, translates to socioeconomic disparities experienced by Black people today
    • Systems set in place that are built on racism are biased systems, leading to these disparities today
  • 11.5% of Black adults in the U.S had no form of health insurance
    • Socioeconomic disparities come in the form of exclusion from health, educational, social, and economic resources, contributing to negative mental health outcomes

 TLDR; this means that American systems are built on racism and are set in place to be biased against Black people. I know, terrible, right? Because of this, we must strive to build more inclusive systems with equal potential for access for all. 


Some more hidden facts...

  • In 2018, 16% (4.8 million) of Black people reported having a mental illness. 22.4% of those people reported a serious mental illness
    • There is a very large gap in Black mental health seekers versus providers.
  • Mental health care practitioners may not be culturally competent enough to treat Black clients’ specific issues; less than 2% of American Psychological Association members are Black
    • Culture plays a large role in response to mental trauma and challenges, as well as stigmas associated with seeking mental help. It is essential to be culturally aware when treating people with specific cultural backgrounds

 TLDR; the number of Black people who need mental health support greatly overpower the number of available Black mental health practitioners. Have you ever had issues that can only be understood by others of your own culture? Have you ever had a tough time feeling understood because others wouldn’t relate culturally, even though they have good intentions?

 

Oh, here are some more hidden facts.

  • 63% of Black people believe that a mental health condition is a personal sign of weakness, acting as a barrier for Black people to get adequate help they need
    • Rooted in racist stereotypes and micro-aggressions that Black people need to be “strong.” Black men, in particular, were concerned about the stigma
  • Stigmas in turn also affect coping behaviors. Black people were less likely to open up about acknowledging psychological problems

 TLDR; there is an overwhelming stereotype that Black people must be “strong”. This creates an extremely toxic stigma around mental health challenges, making Black people feel weak when they aren’t; they go through mental health challenges just like anyone else and deserve support. They don’t have to be strong all the time, no one is!!!


So why does this all matter? Why does it matter to me, and why should it matter to you? Well, wouldn’t it matter if a group of people could be happier? Isn’t it important that people get the help they need? This is a matter of human rights, and everyone deserves to be well and feel well. It’s time to educate ourselves on systemic racism and how it affects the happiness and wellbeing of our Black peers today. Now is our time to speak up and help one another.

 

Join me in speaking out and supporting Minority Mental Health month!

 

Till the next page,

Thy :)


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