It’s time to STOP stigmatizing mental health in the Black community. Black people have faced historical dehumanization, oppression, and violence for centuries. How much more should we endure before realizing we are human and not unbreakable? Indeed, Black history has shown how resilient, strong, brave, and kind we are. That should not be an excuse to not hang up our Superman/woman capes from time to time. Showing some vulnerability and saying NO is an act of self-love. With present-day structural, institutional, and individual racism, there are multiple situations that cultivate a mistrustful and less affluent community experience, characterized by disparities like inadequate access to and delivery of care in the health system. According to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), Black Americans experience serious mental health issues 20% more often than white Americans. It is also possible that societal pressure is another aspect affecting us as individuals. Not to mention, the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness which is partially responsible for the lack of treatment. We often believe that we are strong and don’t need to make an effort to have balanced wellbeing. Processing and dealing with layers of individual trauma on top of new types of traumas from COVID-19 (uncertainty, isolation, grief from financial or human losses), and police brutality, adds too many layers of complexity for individuals to manage. All these elements make it difficult for us to treat mental health within the community. It is time to normalize and recognize some crucial symptoms that could prevent you from mental health issues.
One solution is community initiatives trying to solve this issue as a collective. We can see an increase in community initiatives with the goal to remove the stigma around this topic and inspire healing within the community. An example is Taraji P. henson's initiative "Unspoken curriculum" a six week program providing a safe space for discussions and opportunities for black students to connect to therapist. Other organizations like therapyforblackgirls or medicine4melanin are also great platform providing platforms and resources to change the narrative about mental health challenges within the black communities.