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Black Mental Health Matters

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Being clear on what it means to have mental health issues is important to know before tackling mental health inside of the black community. Mental health awareness is something we have heard more often in the last few years since 2018 was the beginning of the annual mental health awareness month. Mental health disorders are made up of multiple factors such as Autism, Bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD, and more. These disorders require a substantial amount of dedication of treatment both medically and holistically, however, these resolutions are less accessible in the black community or quite frankly, misunderstood, and avoided.

Pay close attention to the behaviors and possible warning signs of someone dealing with a mental health disorder, including yourself. Typically, drastic changes in moods and thinking will cause you to lose focus or have incomplete thoughts and can become significantly frustrating. Think about it now, how many times have you become so frustrated and confused by your thoughts and blame it on tiredness? 

Other ways to internalize mental health issues is through forming bad eating habits, overeating or undereating, constant fighting, feeling numbness, and deep submission to alcohol or drug abuse. 

Inside the black community stigmas and oppression has led to the lack of seeking professional help when suffering from mental health issues. The oppression and foul treatment inflicted on people of color by white supremacists have created false narratives of what mental health issues look like in the black community. As a culture, words and phrases of denial range from, “Black people don’t have time for that” to “that’s white folks shit”, this mindset develops from the thought that only white people have access to mental health resources. This has truth to it.

Have you ever thought about the difference in the history of disciplinary actions in black families versus white families? Slaves were beaten, chained, and whipped by their masters of abuse causing traumatizing experiences that produced deeply-rooted anger and resentment. As a result, these emotions were inflicted in the home of later generations of the black community and naturally translated through whoopings to deal with disobedience. This trend is most opposite in the white community as they grew up to use counseling, time-outs, and verbal chastising in their family. 

25% of African Americans seek help for mental health concerns compared to 45% of White Americans who undeniably can afford the cost of treatment and time off to utilize this care at a better advantage.

In 2020 oppression and silence are no longer being tolerated as the streets chant in protest with a variety of people from different ethnicities and cultures. Black Lives Matter has been a movement since July 13, 2013, and now seven years later is much more alive than ever before. With the stir of recent events including deadly police brutality and the recurrence of taunting and abusive altercations, generations now are more vociferous about what is going on in the minds of the black community and how they are coping with the pain and lunacy in the world as of today. Black Lives Matter was not created to discredit any other life on earth but to highlight the lives who need the support of others and the recognition of the pain and suffering imposed on African Americans because of white supremacy (remixed as a white privilege). The dedicated injustice and trauma are overwhelmingly unfair.

“That’s why I’m here painting, to share the message about using our voice in any way. I too, have been more open about my mental health and talking about it”, says Ashley Jane

Ashley painted, “Use Your Voice”, along with her friend Nadia Abdelkhalek, outside of coffeeshop, 42 & Lawrence, and The Sweet Spot was able to understand where the life of her artwork was inspired from and discuss the importance of transparency in mental health. The only way to achieve progress in any form of healing is through honesty and dedication; doing this alone only will work so far. Don’t be afraid to tell someone what it is you are going through because odds are they are too or knows someone who is. 

There are ways to be more honest with your loved ones about your mental health, here are a few things to remember:

  1. Explain your feelings in social gatherings
  2. Explain you have triggers and what they are
  3. Express when you just need an ear to listen instead of unsolicited advice to seek professional help.
  4. Ask for gentleness and patience
  5. Be honest 
  6. Find others like you 

Finding others like you is not as hard as it sounds. Black men for instance suffer mental illness in plain sight and only chop it up to be “barbershop talk” and even that certain topics are off-limits. Phillip J. Roundtree has a feature on TedTalk, discussing why black mental health matters while wearing a t-shirt saying “This is what depression looks like”. Phillip explains how a black man’s mental stability is disregarded and invisible no matter if they are having behavioral issues as an adolescent or now has a Ph.D., no one cares to ask or check-in.

Black men suffer through anxiety at a high rate due to the stigma of black men are supposed to be strong at all times undermining the fact they too are human and also suffer mentally. Acknowledgment of abuse is subject to happen for women over men in general but because the black man has the swag everyone wants and the strength and knowledge everyone desires, he plays his role and ignores his pain. 

My black man, my black community, I am here to say, you speak on your story and you share your pain because you deserve happiness, healthiness, and healing. 

There are ways to help to cope or to get assistance, such as National Helpline and Each Mind Matters, which both provide hotlines, as well as Melanin & Mental Health.

This is what The Sweet Spot is about because we know that Black Lives Matter and so does our mental health. Check out the mentioned associations to get help and find someone to talk to, it’s time to get your mind back in the sweetest way possible.

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