STIGMA, NO MORE!: MENTAL HEALTH IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
There is a widespread stigma associated with mental illness in the Black community. Because of this stigma, you may frequently feel like life is shameful and that you must conceal a significant portion of who you are. This embarrassment might occasionally be unbearable. But it also raises concerns like: How prevalent is mental illness in the Black community as a whole? If you can understand the statistics it may be easier to erase the stigma.
About 5 million black people have a mental illness, and nearly a quarter of them are reported to have serious illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.
Despite this significant number, only one in three people seek appropriate therapy, which may involve consulting a social worker, therapist, or psychiatrist. While a number of reasons, such as the prevalence of misdiagnoses and a lack of access to quality healthcare, contribute to the gap between prevalence and the number of persons seeking appropriate treatment, stigma in the Black community continues to be a pernicious offender.
Four actions can be taken by the Black community, in fact by all groups, to lessen the stigma associated with mental illness.
1) Gather Information
The best method to combat a knowledge gap in our community is by educating others. Lack of knowledge is the root cause of stigma. The various forms of mental disease are covered in a wide variety of public resources. You can use the information found on the websites of Mental Health America, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
2) Speak Up
In the Black community, we often equate strength with being silent and stoic — and that speaking up and asking for help is considered weakness. Being vocal about your mental health is the opposite. Choosing to be open with family and friends about living with a mental illness is very powerful.
Nobody's identity is defined by having a mental illness, and no one's potential is constrained by it. Showing off our best selves, mental health difficulties and all, demonstrates to some that we are equally capable of leading successful lives as everyone else.
3) Remain Open
We will get closer to eradicating the stigma in our community as more Black people speak up about living with a mental illness. Knowing that you are not the only Black person dealing with a mental illness brings a true sense of camaraderie. Mental illness becomes more real and less terrifying to our community as we grow to understand that anyone, from your next-door neighbor to your personal hero, can be affected by it.
4) Believe People
It is crucial to believe people when they claim to have a mental illness if we want to end stigma. Saying to someone to "pray it away" or to "change your attitude" when they are experiencing a mental health crisis or expressing emotional pain is not helpful. People are discouraged from speaking out about how they are actually feeling when we fail to recognize that people do, in fact, live with mental illness and are dismissive of our recommendations. This can occasionally lead to people forgoing necessary medical care.
These ideas are merely the initial stages in the process of eradicating the stigma associated with mental illness in the Black community. When it comes to assisting other Black people who are suffering from mental diseases, we must improve.
Make a change today and book an appointment here at Beal Wellness, where our goal is to make you happy and healthy!