Mental Health and Black America: A Different Disease in Black Communities
Mental health and mental illness in the Black community are not only highly stigmatized, but also highly overlooked and ignored. Only 1 in 3 Black Americans who need mental health care actually receive it. Over 63% believe it’s a sign of weakness.
Let’s face it: mental and physical health go hand in hand, and it is important to care for both equally. Poor mental health puts a person at higher risk for poor physical health and chronic conditions. This goes both ways. People with chronic health conditions are at an increased risk of developing mental health issues. Some of these conditions, all of which Black Americans are at higher risk for, include:
- Heart Disease
Other risk factors for mental illness that are common in Black communities include:
- Chronic Stress
- Racial Trauma
- Poor Nutrition
- Family History of Mental Illness
Black Americans also receive poorer quality of mental health care and have less access to culturally competent care. This puts them at a greater risk of misdiagnosis, or having their symptoms ignored all together.
For the Black community
Common mental illnesses symptoms experienced by the Black community include:
- Depression: Categorized by depressed mood, lack of interest in activities causing impairment to daily life that lasts months or years
- Anxiety: Several different disorders defined by intense and persistent worry and/or fear about typical daily situations such as job responsibilities, social interactions, or being in public.
- Bipolar disorder: Severe mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs
- Schizophrenia: Impacts the way a person thinks and behaves, commonly causing a feeling of losing touch with reality
If you or a loved one feels as though they are suffering from any of these symptoms, support, and treatment is crucial and available to you. Our guides below can help to navigate mental health in today’s healthcare system.
Resources for the Black community: AAWP’s List of MH Resources | Black Doctors Speak Podcast: Mental Health in the African American Community |