Destigmatizing Mental Illness In The Black Community

Minorities represent a large part of the U.S. population who fail to receive adequate care and attention regarding their mental health.

A silent stigma of mental health disorders stains the Black community specifically. The mental health crisis affecting Black Americans is severe and deserves more national attention.

According to Mental Health America, Black Americans account for 13.4 percent or just over 46 million of the total population, yet 16 percent of Black Americans suffer from various forms of mental illness. The most common mood-affecting diseases among the Black community include anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and psychotic and schizophrenic disorders. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center also revealed in a 2020 study that those of Black and African American descent ages 25-34 represent 11.4 percent per 100,000 people of the national suicide average.

Black mother and daughter studying

Photo: Getty Images

Suicidal thoughts can be persistent amongst those who suffer from the less commonly known Persistent Depression Disorder, or PPD. Also referred to as High Functioning Depression, PPD is a mood disorder that is evident when an individual experiences chronic depression for two years or more. Psychology Today reports that an individual experiencing High Functioning Depression disorder may not impersonate the ideal role of a person suffering from major depression as that individual will continue daily following their routine while experiencing bouts of depression.

In 2021, former Miss USA 2019 Chelsie Kryst died by suicide. On the surface, many thought her life seemed "perfect." However, following her death, Chelsie's mother revealed that the late beauty queen suffered from High Functioning Depression. The revelation triggered a wave of conversations about mental health in the Black community and the pressures on women of color specifically.

Over thirty percent of Black women spearhead single-parent households as the sole provider, which is known to induce significant stress and pressure to excel for themselves and others in their care. Additionally, single Black women experiencing mental health disorders tend to adopt a negligence of self-awareness and well-being practices painting their mental health issues as invalid or not as severe in nature.

Attributes such as Race, economics, accessibility, and believability contribute to the growing disdain and distrust between Black Americans and medical professionals. The stress of navigating resources to find mental health professionals or treatment that caters specifically to Black Americans without medical implicit bias funnels frustration among those seeking help. This hesitancy has ignited the start of multiple online platforms and apps, such as Health in Her Hue and WellMiss, that create opportunities to connect various communities of Black America to trusted health care professionals and providers.

For more resources catered to Black communities, click HERE.

If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.

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