Trigger Warning: mentions of mental health issues such as self harm, anxiety, body image issues, paranoia, and depression.
I’ve struggled with mental health ever since I entered middle school. In 6th grade, I started self-harming because I thought that’s what I deserved. After I got better and stopped self-harming, I was left with a lot of anxiety, body image issues, and paranoia. As I go into the 10th grade, all of these issues still affect my daily life, and while my parents and family support and help me through all of my struggles now; it wasn’t always that way.
In the black community, there’s a significant stigma around mental health. The most common response to black people dealing with mental health is that they should “go pray about it” and that it’ll fix all of their problems.
However, there are additional common actions that many black parents and relatives do which creates a hostile environment to open up in.
When I first came to my parents about my mental health struggles, they blew me off like it was nothing. It wasn’t until my depression got more severe that they started paying attention to the pain I was going through. Even after I had worked through my depression and saw a therapist for my anxiety, my family didn’t allow me to get the medication for my anxiety that was suggested. Instead, they said to me, “medication like that is for people with real problems,” implying that I was not one of those people.
Throughout my mental health journey, I think my family has done a great job, but there are still ways to improve. I’m very thankful that they even allow me to see a therapist and get the help I need because, unfortunately, many people don’t have that opportunity.
This needs to change. We need to educate our people about the importance of mental well-being, so we don’t keep losing our brothers and sisters. The stigma around mental health in the black community needs to end with this generation because everyone deserves help and happiness. By educating ourselves and the people around us, we can create a loving environment that will allow people to open up and get help.
I know how hard it is to open up about mental health struggles and how hard it is to feel trapped and like nothing you can do, and I don’t want anyone else to feel that way.
This is why the black community needs to do better at handling mental health because if we don’t, who knows how many more people we could lose.
Ending the Stigma by Brooklyn Ramey - Michigan, U.S.
Here are a few resources for mental health support that work around the world.
https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline - U.S, operational in English and Spanish
https://checkpointorg.com/global/ - Global resource numbers
https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use - WHO mental health/substance abuse page
https://unitedgmh.org/mental-health-support - Global resources, UGMH