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Black Men and Mental Health Struggles

by Andrea Polk |

BLACK MEN AND MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES:

The community’s unique challenges and how to move forward

Talking about mental health isn’t encouraged in the black community.  Men are expected to be tough, to internalize, to always model strength in the face of adversity.  But there’s a cost for this type of social posturing.  The black community faces the same rate of mental illness as other sects of the American population but is disproportionately blocked from resources.

According to psychiatry.org, black mental health patients are less likely to receive effective care, less likely to be included in research studies, less likely to be offered evidence-based medication therapy, and more likely to use ER or primary care doctors instead of mental health professionals.

Furthermore, black men face greater mental health challenges, often fearing that a show of vulnerability could be interpreted as weakness and used against them.

CHANGING THE STIGMA 

There’s no easy fix here, but there are some simple actions that can be taken to improve this reality:

  • Speak up: When you’re having a problem, seek help from people you trust.  If you don’t want to consult those around you, search for mental health professionals in your area.  Your insurance company will likely have a listing of approved providers.
  • Get modern: Look for fresh, new, convenient ways to get help.  For example, Henry Health offers access to 24/7 online therapy with a weekly subscription.  There’s no office, no black leather chair, no worry about being seen walking into a therapy office.  You simply talk to someone in the privacy of your home, at the moments when you need help the most.  
  • Protect your health: Participate in activities that promote great mental health, like working out, eating nutritionally balanced meals, and getting full nights of quality sleep.
  • Be mindful: If you don’t need help, you might be around someone who does.  Be sensitive about the way you discuss mental health problems around others.  If you ridicule those who have problems, you feed into the stigma around mental health problems in the black community, possibly causing someone to retreat further within themselves instead of seeking help.

Attitudes in the black community are slowly starting to change.  The hashtag #YouGoodMan gave black men an open forum to discuss their mental health struggles and receive support via social media.  There’s hope that black men will start to practice necessary self-care without fear of how it will be perceived.