Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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SILENCING BLACK MENTAL HEALTH

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NOT THIS TIME AROUND

With the recent events of police brutality in America, all while a global pandemic is ongoing, America finds itself in an emotional state, one where the Black community specifically may feel distressed. Social media serves as a place where activists can voice their opinions and share videos that hold the truth about the violence against the Black citizens of this country. However, with the constant flow of these videos, people are not just suffering physically, but mentally as well. Like most situations in America, mental health is seen as something secondary because of its complexity and a lack of information on how to completely solve the issue. As more people become vocal about the ongoing racism and violence that affects the Black community, mental health resources refuse to be silenced. These resources are combating the issue of mental health through their growing awareness of the issue and offering counseling and therapy for those who are in need of it.

Mental health is commonly ignored in many incidents in America. Physical illnesses are usually treated first because of the prevalent research and accessibility to treatment for them. In the last few years, the conversation of  mental health has been normalized, especially when it comes to issues on anxiety and depression. However, this conversation is still something that is not talked about as openly and cared for in the Black community.

According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, African Americans are ten percent more likely to suffer from physiological distress. Much of this has to do with the socioeconomic conditions that the Black community is subjected to, compared to White communities. For one, health care systems that cover issues such as mental health are less accessible to Black communities. According to a study published on NAMI about black mental health,  about eleven percent of African Americans had no form of health care whatsoever, in 2017. How are mental health issues supposed to be treated when the community can not get the appropriate treatment and services? 

In addition, the NAMI reports that African Americans continue to be faced with discriminatory and prejudicial practices in health care systems. This has led to misdiagnoses and incorrect treatments by professionals, only furthering the distrust of the system, ultimately steering Black communities away from seeking help and treatment. 

Now has never been a more appropriate time to raise awareness of these issues, especially as more Black people are facing the effects of both systematic and individualized racism. While police brutality stands as the problem at hand, and viral videos showcasing these incidents are important, the mental health of Black people could be taking a toll greater than the public cares to acknowledge. But many resources, led by Black people and all people of color, are using this time to introduce and implement platforms specifically geared for the Black community, in order to normalize the topic of Black mental health.

One of these resources, Therapy for Black Girls, is an online service which strives to eradicate the stigma that surrounds mental health of Black women, specifically. The service features an online podcast, blog, community, and a connection to therapists both in office and virtually. Podcasts hosted by Dr. Joy Harden Bradford are designed to incorporate elements of pop culture in order to tackle key mental health issues that Black women face in today’s society.

Another group, the National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, commits to providing a safe environment for queer and trans people of color and to make healing resources more accessible to this specific community.

As awareness is spreading and concerns are increasing due to the most recent events of racism in America, it is important that black mental health is cared for, as it has not been in the past. Where Americans are opening their eyes and minds to the systematic racism and oppression black people have faced for hundreds of years, mental health must be included in those conversations. Black Mental health will not take last place this time.