According to Mental Health America, over 7 million Americans who identify as Black Americans suffered from a mental illness in the last year. Mental illness affect mood, thinking and behavior. Mental illnesses can range from anxiety to schizophrenia.
Racism, discrimination and inequality have the biggest impact on mental health on Black Americans. The ongoing trauma, or emotional response from continued trauma can turn into post traumatic stress syndrome.
Black American adults are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health issues such as depression or anxiety due to repeat exposure to trauma due to skin color.
Here are a few common traumas American Blacks regularly experience:
Higher interest rates
Incarceration of peers
Violence against others of their race
Unfortunately, only 1 in 3 black Americans who need a mental health professional seek one. There might be under reporting and lack of trust between the medical community and black Americans due to unethical testing in the past.
The most well known mistreatment took place among those who had a sexually transmitted disease called syphilis. During the course of the study penicillin was widely available for the successful treatment of syphilis, but it was not used. Instead the study was conducted without informed consent and the participants were studied throughout the course of their lives with this disease.
We now have laws to prevent studies like this from happening again in the United States, however history can be hard to forgive. Especially when it happens so close to home. This can be one of the reasons why only 1 in 3 black American adults seek help from mental professionals when they need it.
When to know if you need to see a therapist?
If you need help processing emotions (especially from trauma), thinking and behavior, then it is time to find a mental health professional. If you do not have insurance, please don't let that be a reason you do not get the help you need. This website can help you find health insurance.
Where do I find Help?
Here is our resource page to help find black American mental health professionals. When reaching out to a mental health provider, ask if they provide care that includes one's culture.
The best ways to end the stigma surrounding seeing mental health professionals are to seek one yourself, and then refer those who are looking to your professional. Be the example for your community.