Maintaining Mental Health in the Black Community

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and here are a few things to know about challenges to African American mental health and how to mitigate them during this mental health awareness month.

It’s also important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic caused disproportionate financial and health harms to Black Americans. Additionally, systematic racism continually reinforces existing barriers to nearly every other aspect of Black life, many of which stem from various socioeconomic injustices.

On top of all this, African American communities are at a greater risk than other groups of experiencing:

  • PTSD (particularly among young people)
  • Stress-induced changes in reproductive cells and in the uterus, which can lead to negative outcomes in fetal development
  • Clinical anxiety and depression
  • Cultural stigmas around mental illness that prevent Black individuals from acknowledging their needs and seeking out psychological support
  • Barriers to mental health resources, such as lack of health insurance or geographic access to therapists
  • Prejudice and discrimination in the healthcare system that cause African American individuals to be un- or underdiagnosed with mental and other health conditions

Ways Black Communities Can Attain (and Maintain) Good Mental Health

Although systemic changes in society are needed to eliminate racism and address its effects, Black individuals can improve and protect their mental health in a number of ways. Among the first of these is realizing that seeking out mental health resources is a form of strength and resilience, not weakness. African Americans can also:

  • Learn about and recognize the symptoms of trauma and other psychological harms that stem from racism and racist systems
  • Talk to a doctor and ask for help finding a therapist experienced with the contexts that influence Black Americans’ psychological health, or search directories to find an appropriate therapist
  • Look for therapists who offer telehealth appointments and services
  • Seek out culturally competent mental health resources from nonprofits and other organizations
  • The new Suicide Prevention Hotline is also available by dialing 988

A Good Prescription for the Health of Black Americans

The African American Wellness Project (AAWP) was formed in 2002 to respond to inequities in the healthcare delivery system and is dedicated to health equity and better health outcomes for people of color. African Americans suffer from health conditions at a disproportionately higher rate than other ethnic groups, and we believe these health disparities will continue to exist if we don’t take action.

AAWP serves as a trusted megaphone and provides culturally relevant tools, resources, and programming, such as information about how to navigate a mental health crisis and ways to take charge of your mental health. AAWP encourages African Americans to advocate for themselves and protect their health, regardless of insurance status or other circumstances.

Check out our website resources and follow us on social media, consider making a donation, and join us in our important mission!