Updated: Aug 17, 2019
Many mental health issues get swept under the rug in the Black community because our people fail to seek help. Having mental illness was for a long time seen as a weakness or laziness and the advice of the elders would be to "toughen up and keep it moving", or "pray about it". Below are the top thre
e reasons why African Americans fail to seek mental health care:
Not enough doctors that look like us. Throughout medical school, the Blacks were always outnumbered by a landslide. No matter how qualified, we had to work harder than most to even be respected in the field. Damon Tweedy, M.D. shared his experience of starting as a Duke Medical student only to be mistaken as a custodian. It is hard enough to live in fear of having a social stigma regarding a mental illness, only to walk into the doctor's office to find someone who does not understand or can relate to you. The gap can be bridged as physicians gain more cultural competency.
Faith & Spirituality. While God certainly has the power to heal, having an awareness of what you are struggling with allows for much quicker healing than denial. It is imperative to both rely on your spirituality/faith as well as medical and therapeutic treatment depending on the severity of the condition.
Access to quality care/uninsured About 27% of African Americans live below the poverty level compared to about 10.8% of nonHispanic whites (American Psychiatric Association). Some are not able to afford the cost of healthcare or afford the medications prescribed to them. I'm sure you have that one cousin that will never go to the doctor because they just don't want to pay that co-pay!
Whatever the reason you have not taken that step to get mental health care-- please do not suffer in silence! #MinorityMentalHealthAwarenessMonth