“I’ll be okay”. “No, everything’s fine”, two common phrases heard from many African Americans with unspoken elephants in the room. An elephant we see but do not speak on. An elephant that grows heavy with its weight on our shoulders. One we coax with simple disregard for its destruction. One we make seem casual amongst our routines. Mental health is often ignored when it comes to the African American community. Over 7 million blacks in the United States struggle with mental health. It is about time we address the elephant in the room.
African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, according to the Office of Minority Health. Black people are more often diagnosed with schizophrenia and less often diagnosed with mood disorders compared to white counterparts with the same symptoms. Due to this fact many blacks are given prescriptions to deal with their mental health instead of being offered the opportunity to speak with a therapist. Therapy, so often as a community it is seen as unnecessary, an act of weakness, or dare I say it a “white people thing” but yet studies show about 25% of African Americans seek mental health care as compared to 40% of whites according to the National alliance on Mental Illness.
While so many African Americans secretly seek out this help many still cannot afford to maintain the financial upkeep. Young African Americans feel the weight of the elephant in the room more now than ever being that many lack health care insurance and fall short when it comes to figuring out how to go about receiving the help that they need. In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans, from age 15-24.
On May 28th, 2020 renown actress Taraji P Henson went on CNN and said, “When covid happened, my heart went out and I just knew that people were suffering and they’re suffering alone in isolation.” Many continue to laugh off the pain they mentally endure, not knowing that there are free organizations that would love to help them deal with their emotional struggles. Here are a list of organizations willing to help.
While therapy is still new to many African Americans here are also some ways to holistically balance their mental stability.
1. Eating fruits and Vegetables (cucumbers)
3. CBD oils
4. Taking a break (traveling)
5. Constant Communicating