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Focus Your Health...

Mental Health: Taboo in the African American Community?

Look I'm no expert but I do know maintaining a healthy focus on our mental health is something we cannot ignore. I'm going to load this blog up with resources galore because honestly, its something I too need help with and so much research has already been done that we might as well tap into those.


Anissa Moody, Ph.D, wrote an article for www.blackdoctor.org back in 2014, titled "Black Mental Health: 3 Myths That Hurt Us." It's such a great article about the myths that all of us in the Black community are familiar with so let's talk about it.


Myth #1: African Americans are less likely to have mental health disorders than other ethnic minorities.


Not only do we as Black people tend to believe this myth, but health experts do as well and that is a major problem because it leads to severe misdiagnoses. I won't quote the entire article but Moody says, "Access to care, low help seeking, misdiagnosis, and delivery of care are all major factors affecting how minority mental health is accounted for and understood." We typically do not seek help. Generationally its just not something we've done or could do. Personally, I know I've had the thought that no one would believe my issues to be significant enough to be considered a health issue. Why should I talk to someone about it...especially to someone who doesn't look like me? I also think we tend to compare our lives to others and by comparison we feel like, "how dare you. The nerve! There are people way worse off. As good as your life is...you don't need to talk to anybody about your itty bitty problems. Please!"


🙄🙄🙄 Eeww...who taught us that? THIS THOUGHT PROCESS HAS TO CHANGE FAMILY! We have issues like every other ethnicity and we deserve to seek help and receive pristine care like everyone else. The healthcare system has been proven to treat us differently due to their own biases about Black people and mental health, which leads me to myth #2.


Myth #2: African Americans are "strong" and can handle stress.


There's no doubt that we are a strong people whom can overcome anything. We have an inherent resiliency because let's be honest, we had no other choice. I mean look at all we've been through and continue to go through. Let's talk about our strength for a moment.


We were snatched from our homeland, stripped of our culture, language and religious practices, beaten, raped, families torn apart, children and spouses sold, etc. We were downright traumatized. And the trauma continued after slavery, into the Great Migration, Jim Crow, Civil Rights, the murder of so many of our Black leaders, the attack on our Black men in particular, the War on Drugs, and today with numerous unarmed Black people being killed by the men and women sworn to protect us. The trauma hasn't stopped. And through all of that, enslaved Africans were "freed" but never helped.


This is all the more reason why we absolutely NEED mental health care.


Now ask yourself this: Has any one of your elders or ancestors, who lived through ANY of that, EVER sought or were offered counseling? Did they even talk to other family members about all of what happened? Probably not. That is a problem.


Now ask yourself this: How has that trauma been passed on from generation to generation to you? How did it affect their relationships, how they communicated or didn't, how they showed affection, how they possibly alienated each other? Over time, we've learned to hate each other, women learned to live on their own without support from our men. Our family structure is almost non-existent due to all of the above and us not seeking help. That is a huge problem, if not, the biggest of them all. On to myth #3.


Myth #3: "For those who believe in God, prayer is the only way."

Oh boy. Didn't we just get finished talking about spiritual health in the last blog? Yea so....praying is one method to strengthen our mental health however comma space...it cannot be the end all, be all. God tells us to pray. Please do that. He also tells us to help ourselves. Can my spiritual brothers and sisters agree that God places amazing gifts on the inside of many of His helpers in order to help us? Those counselors are here for us! Please use them! Let us not be so spiritually minded that we are no earthly good! Now how many times have I heard that preached? LOL!

 

Luckily resources geared toward the Black people and mental health has grown over the years. In light of the COVID-19 restrictions around the world, a company was formed to handle virtual therapy with Black counselors and I think that is pretty amazing. Below are some of those resources, blogs from mental health reporters, Instagram pages, etc. Please leave a comment if you've ran across more than the ones posted below.


- Sister Zahra lists Instagram pages, directories, groups, and organizations in this article.


- This page gives many Black mental health resources for men, women, and children. It also includes videos on understanding the context of racism and recent events, how it impacts mental health, and understanding and addressing social determinants of health that impact mental health.


Landon Buford - Forbes Contributor: Meet the Black Men Making Mental Health Less Taboo

- Brother Landon interviewed Corey Lewis and Thomas Drew, the cofounders of 1And1 Life, a digital wellness and Lifestyle brand. Together, they are filling the void for mental health education and resources to make them more accessible in Black communities.


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