Mental Health and the Black Community
Updated: Aug 17, 2020
Did you know July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?
Mental health conditions do not discriminate and racial trauma is real. Constant exposure to discrimination and racism can have lasting and detrimental effects on people of color, and unfortunately culturally competent treatment is lacking. Cultural stigmas, access to care, and quality of care are issues plaguing minority communities.
Acknowledging mental illness or the need for help is not a sign of weakness, but instead seeking help when you need it is a sign of strength. Stigmas surrounding mental health and Black communities is a conversation worth having. Socioeconomic challenges oftentimes put Black communities at higher risk of suffering from mental health challenges
The heath of Black communities is directly connected to, and established by economic stability, access to food, the quality of the health care system in the community, the physical environment, the quality of education, and the community and social offerings, like access to voting, and youth programs. Systemic disparities are a driving cause of inequality in Black communities, which are some of the most underserved and discriminated against in our nation. We are more openly facing the unfortunate truths of systemic racism in America. The result-- constant exposure to systemic stressors, generally speaking, racism and discrimination.
Seeking culturally competent care is not a simple process, but a necessary process. Here are a few questions to ask your potential provider--
Have you treated other people of color? Be specific about your race.
Have you trained to be culturally competent?
How do you plan to integrate my beliefs into my treatment?
“Decolonizing therapy is looking at the entire individual, it's putting a focus on how trauma from oppression and the history of colonization has played a role in people's well-being and mental health. It’s realizing that we cannot just look at an individual without looking at what is happening systemically as well.” -Dr. Jennifer Mullan
Here are some reminders about caring for yourself--
Practice good sleep hygiene. Running on very little sleep has negative implications on your health and well-being. Rest supports a strong and healthy body, supports mental clarity, and supports productivity and your sense of accomplishment.
Tighten your circle. The old saying birds of a feather flock together is true. Surround yourself with empowered and strong people who have a genuine interest in you and your well-being.
Fuel your body properly. What is your relationship with food? You are what you eat. If junk food is a large part of your diet and you are not feeling well, your diet may be to blame. A clean diet can help you to find more energy, more clarity, and more focus.
LET GO. Attachment is one of the greatest causes of suffering. Are you taking things too personal? Are you attached to the outcome? When you learn to let go, your confidence will blossom.
Do not let social media steal your joy. Social media has certainly helped bring light to social justice issues, but taking in too much negative content has lasting effects on the psyche. There are sentiments and visuals that you cannot unsee. Too much of anything is not healthy for you, this includes social media.
Celebrate. Your accomplishments deserve celebration and praise. You can do this all by yourself. Treat yourself. Share with people who care about you. No matter how you celebrate, make sure you find joy in your accomplishments, big or small.
Stay present. The present moment is a gift. While the past can sometimes offer context, there is nothing in the past you can change. If you had major life plans or a small weekend away planned prior to COVID-19, you now understand how being too caught up in the future can take you by surprise. Life changes, but the present moment is guaranteed.
Get a mental health check up.
Strength still needs support. If you are brave enough to share your story, you might inspire someone to change the trajectory of their life. There is heightened anxiety just existing as a Black person in the United States. YOUR MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS.