There are a lot of programs that are working locally and nationally to raise awareness about mental health problems in the Black community – but the question is why? Why are we any different from the rest?
Well, it is widely believed that anyone can be at risk of mental disorders and should heed effective and early interventions. Historically, however, communities of color have experienced considerable and unique challenges when it comes to access to mental health services.
You already know how the Black community has faced adversity historically, such as is in the case of race-based exclusion from economic, social, educational, and health resources not to mention post-traumatic slavery disorder. (Not a documented mental disorder, but more the legacy of the inherited stress and trauma of our ancestors.)
All of these disparities lead to socioeconomic problems and those lead to mental health issues. Naturally, people who have problems like substance abuse, domestic violence and those who have been incarcerated, homeless or are impoverished have a higher risk of poor mental health.
Adults from the Black community are more likely to report serious psychological distress than whites. A recent study found that African-American teenagers weren’t more likely to die from suicide but would definitely attempt it more than white teenagers.
Another fact of the matter is that Black people tend to be over-represented in our prisons and jails. African-Americans make up for about 60% of the prison population and about 37% of total drug arrests. Another very troubling fact is that the American Psychological Association only consists of about 2% Black members. Because of this, mental health practitioners who are not people of color may not be prepared for the problems faced by the Black community.
What makes matters worse is that there are a considerable number of Black patients who have reported that they faced micro-aggressions or outright racism from their therapists. And he judgment and stigma remain in the Black community when it comes to people seeking treatment for their mental health problems.