Written By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, Ed.D.
In recent news, there was a father who shot his son in self-defense and killed him. Sadly, his son was battling drug addition and a mental illness. It was noted that the father had previously tried to get his son help. As a parent, it is our responsibility to protect our children and do the best that we can in raising them. As a parent myself, I can’t imagine the pressure and fear this father was going through in that moment, and the mental toll he will have to live with for the rest of his life. I can’t help but wonder if his son had gotten the help he needed, would the result have ended differently. Unfortunately, this is only one of many mental illness cases that have occurred over the years.
In the last few years, the world has been going though unprecedented times. We have all had to deal with COVID-19, the loss of loved ones, unemployment, financial struggles, and so much more. With everything going on in the world, it is important that we are taking care of ourselves and focusing on our mental health, especially in the black community. When was the last time you took care of your mental health?
In the Black community, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) mentioned that only one in three Black adults receive the mental care they need. There are many reasons as to why Blacks are hesitant to taking care of their mental health. First, there is a negative perception towards those who may have a mental illness. NAMI discussed how 63% of Black people think that having a mental illness is a sign of weakness. This negative perception makes it hard for those who are yearning for help to reach out in fear of the judgment that may come with it. Second, religion is a big part of the Black community, and some Black people tend to lean on their faith to help them through their issues rather than a medical diagnosis.
In addition, there is the socioeconomic disparity in the Black community. NAMI stated that 11.5% of Black adults in 2018 had no form of health insurance. If people cannot get the resources they need, they cannot get the help they need. It is important that the Black community educate themselves about the free resources that are available to them and take advantage of the help.
Lastly, there is a lack of trust that Black people have in the health care system, and their experience living in the United States. According to NAMI, historically, Blacks have been discriminated against and have lost faith in the health care system. This alone makes it hard for Black people to feel comfortable about going to doctors to receive help.
Whatever the reason may be (financial, no access to resources, discrimination, lack of trust), Black people need to be aware of their mental health and find a way to take care of their mental health. Mental health is wealth, and if you are not well mentally, it can impact every aspect of your life in a negative way. We need to do better as a community to not shame those who are in need, and to promote the importance of taking care of yourself mentally.
Mental Health Resources:
www.blackmentalhealth.com –Provides information and resources and a “Find a Therapist” locator to connect with a culturally competent mental health professional.
https://www.blackmentalwellness.com/ –Provides access to evidence-based information and resources about mental health and behavioral health topics from a Black perspective, as well as training opportunities for students and professionals.
https://www.melaninandmentalhealth.com/about-us/- Connects individuals with culturally competent clinicians committed to serving the mental health needs of Black & Latinx/Hispanic communities. Promotes the growth and healing of diverse communities through its website, online directory and events.