Despite progress made over the years, racism continues to have an impact on the mental health of Black and African American people. Negative stereotypes and attitudes of rejection have decreased, but continue to occur with measurable, adverse consequences.
Overall, mental health conditions occur in Black people with about the same or less frequency than in White people. However, the Black experience in America has been and continues to be characterized by trauma and violence more often than for our White counterparts and impacts the emotional and mental health of both young people and adults.
Dehumanization, oppression, and violence against Black and African American people have evolved into present-day racism - structural, institutional, and individual – and cultivate a uniquely mistrustful and less affluent community experience, characterized by a myriad of disparities including inadequate access to and delivery of care in the health system. Processing and dealing with layers of individual trauma on top of new mass traumas from COVID-19 (uncertainty, isolation, grief from financial or human losses), police brutality and its fetishization in news media, and divisive political rhetoric adds compounding layers of complexity for individuals to responsibly manage.
Black people are less likely to seek help because of mistrust of the medical system. This Church is committed to combating that mistrust through faith-based outreach like this Awareness Campaign. One hopeful data point shows that Black people who screen positive for depression self-identify as planning to seek help at higher rates than the general population say they will seek help. Unfortunately, Black providers, who are known to give more appropriate and effective care to Black people, make up a very small portion of the behavioral health provider workforce. Because of these factors and more, Black people are more likely to experience chronic and persistent, rather than episodic, mental health conditions. Yet, hope for recovery should remain, as light is shed on these issues - and the general public holds accountable policymakers and health systems to evolve better systems that eliminate inequities in mental health services.
Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care
is the most shocking and inhuman.”
Martin Luther King Jr. on Inequality and Health Care From a 1966 Chicago speech before the Medical Committee for Human Rights.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.
Learn how barbers are helping fight stigma through open and honest conversation for boys, men, and their families in the Black community, and how they can be a springboard to mental health care access and connection to support communities like NAMI.
10 Common Warning Signs of a Mental Health Condition in Teens and Young Adults
Telling the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn't always easy. There's no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.
Each illness has its own set of symptoms but some common signs of a mental health condition can include the following.
MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES
Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM): BEAM is a training, movement-building, and grant-making organization dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black communities. BEAM envisions a world where there are no barriers to Black Healing.
The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation: changing the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging people to get the help they need; focuses on stigma/self-stigma reduction and building trust between Black people and the mental health field.
Resource Guide: directory of mental health providers and programs that serve the Black community; includes therapists, support groups, etc, but also digital content, faith-based programs, educational programs, etc
Therapy for Black Girls: online space encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls; referral tool to find a therapist in your area
Therapist Directory: find trusted therapists that can help you navigate being a strong, Black woman; can search for in-office therapists by your location or virtual therapist.
The Loveland Foundation: financial assistance to Black women & girls seeking therapy
Therapy for Black Men: primarily a therapist directory for Black men seeking therapy; includes some resources and stories.
Dr. Ebony’s My Therapy Cards: self-exploration card deck created by a Black female psychologist for other women of color; created with the intention of helping other women of color grow and elevate in the areas of emotional and mental health.
Innopsych: InnoPsych’s mission is to bring healing to communities of color by changing the face and feel of therapy. They strive to make therapists of color more visible in the community by creating a path to wellness-themed business ownership; to make it faster (and easier) for people of color to match with a therapist of color; and create a major shift in how communities of color (or POCs) view therapy.
Safe Black Space: Safe Black Space is the umbrella under which various services are offered to address people of African ancestry’s individual and community reactions to cultural and racial trauma.