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FunTimes Magazine

Mental Health and Young African Americans: Need for Concern?

Oct 29, 2022 03:00PM ● By Anand Subramanian

When we talk about mental health today, it's clear that it hasn't gone in the right direction yet. The disproportionate amount of trauma and violence that Black and African American people in the United States face hurts their emotional and mental health. Black and African American people have been dehumanized, oppressed, and hurt throughout history. This has led to the structural, institutional, and personal forms of racism that still exist today. Even though there have been a lot of changes in society, the problem is still there and has taken on new shapes. These kinds of racism lead to a community where people don't trust each other and where people are poor and have trouble getting good health care. 

The COVID – 19 brought uncertainty, loneliness, sadness from financial or personal losses, police violence and the way the news media treats it as a fetish, and controversial political language made it harder for people to process and deal with their trauma. 

But there should be hope for recovery as more people learn about these problems and try to unlearn so-called "toxic" behaviors, like not going to get help for mental health problems. Let's take a moment to look at some statistics about mental health problems and find out how to deal with them in this article.

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  • According to data, suicide was the second most significant cause of death for Black Americans aged 15 to 24 in 2019. 

  • Black females in grades 9-12 were 60% more likely to attempt suicide. 

  • According to the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services, Black individuals in the United States are more likely than White adults to express chronic symptoms of emotional distress, such as sorrow and a sense that everything is a struggle. 

  • Black individuals living in poverty are more than twice as likely as those with more financial stability to experience severe psychological anguish. 

  • According to data, Like other groups of color, the Black community is more prone to face socioeconomic disadvantages such as exclusion from health, educational, social, and economic resources. These differences might lead to worse mental health outcomes.

  •  In 2020, 10.4% of Black adults in the United States lacked health insurance.

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While being Black in America can mean many different things to many other people, common cultural threads contribute to how we understand what it means to be mentally healthy, build resilience, cope with setbacks, and ultimately find peace. Family ties, shared values, the ability to express oneself through art like music or spiritual practice, and the reliance on social and religious networks are all aspects of culture that can enrich and provide excellent support to one another. However, one aspect of this bond is the mental toll that racism, discrimination, and inequality take on those who experience them. 

The Black community also faces systemic barriers to receiving the necessary medical attention. Because of the stigma associated with talking about mental health, many people of African descent find it challenging to bring up the subject. People in desperate need of mental health care may not get it because of this stigma. Belief in a higher power and other forms of spirituality can play a significant role in the healing process and should be incorporated into any effective treatment plan. To combat loneliness, religious leaders and congregations can be great resources. However, they shouldn't be the only choice for people whose mental health symptoms make it difficult for them to go about their daily lives.

We should not dismiss the creativity that has occurred on the ground. Churches, faith-based organizations, and barbershops have become unofficial mental health havens where Black people typically feel more comfortable speaking freely about their difficulties. To improve the experience, we should provide these organizations with resources, training, and access to mental health specialists, allowing us to offer help in places where individuals already feel secure. Many individuals need a shared sense of community, values and belonging in order to feel really at ease with their therapist. That frequently indicates a preference for a Black supplier for the Black community, but there isn't nearly enough to match the demand. Cultivating a secure and affirming place for Black people in mental health education programs is critical to improving Black representation in the mental health industry. 

One possible way to encourage more people with mental health problems to get help is to lessen the stigma associated with doing so. They may be able to get treatment and then have better lives overall. The stigma surrounding mental illness needs to be dispelled in two ways: by increasing the availability of culturally competent providers and altering the dominant cultural narrative. Treatment for a mental health problem need not be any more stigmatizing than treatment for a physical health problem. Education about mental illness and normalizing mental health problems may help people realize this. Providers of mental health services should have the resources necessary to care for members of the Black community. Therapists and psychiatrists who are culturally competent may be able to reduce suspicion and improve treatment.

Podcasts and social media influencers also play a role in combating the negative connotations associated with this topic. Many rappers, such as G Herbo, Polo G, and Quando Rondo, have released songs addressing mental health. Other public figures have also spoken about these problems and tried to get people to pay attention to them using their platforms. People can get help, information, and even online therapy from culturally relevant apps and websites. This is helping to break down barriers to acceptance for African Americans.

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Here are the resources for anyone who is looking for mental health solutions - 

 Anand Subramanian is a freelance photographer and content writer based out of Tamil Nadu, India. Having a background in Engineering always made him curious about life on the other side of the spectrum. He leapt forward towards the Photography life and never looked back. Specializing in Documentary and  Portrait photography gave him an up-close and personal view into the complexities of human beings and those experiences helped him branch out from visual to words. Today he is mentoring passionate photographers and writing about the different dimensions of the art world.

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