Mental health in the black community has just not been talked about, but as most people know, mental illness, addiction, and eating disorders do not discriminate.
What keeps certain people from seeking services for the same illness or disorder that leads other people to quickly seek help? What particular aspects of the black community keep people from helping themselves when something becomes too much to handle on one’s own, and consequences are starting to negatively impact his or her life?
Stereotypes, stigmas, and silence have kept many members of the black community stuck in an illness that could be treated. According to 2009 figures for the United States, African-American members of our society seek mental health treatment half as much as Caucasian members. Maybe this is because 63% of African-Americans surveyed believe that depression is a “personal weakness.”
New Program Looks To Change
One new program looks to remove the mental health stigma that keeps many of those in the black community sick.
A conference called “The State of Black Mental Health: What’s the Diagnosis?”, held in Denver, Colorado was influenced by Jeff Fard’s year-long series on the current state of mental health in the black community. Fard’s belief is that mental health care providers need to be informed and educated on how to best approach treatment with black clients. Mistakes and misdiagnoses, plus a lack of cultural understanding, drives people away from treatment, and keeps any mental health services from being effective.
Meetings will be held to continue on the efforts of removing the mental health stigma in the black community. The next one is called “Black Women and Mental Health.”
Free mental health consultations, access to various resources, and a new sense of community is underway. Helping others reach out for help is a beautiful process that is now extending to help a group that has needed help all along. Denver, Colorado is starting the change, but hopefully it will expand to help more and more people.
Blog post by: Marissa Maldonado
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