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Mental Health in the Black Community

Mental Health in the Black Community: An Unspoken Issue

by Sonal Shukla

Black people and mental health have often been overlooked for many reasons. As a result, cultural values related to mental health can be difficult to change. Historically, African Americans have been at greater risk for developing conditions because their culture that has emphasized the need for self-reliance, stoicism and so forth. However, recent studies are finding that black communities may be more prone to experiencing mental health problems than people in other communities. In fact, when considering how much African Americans still struggle due to racism, it’s likely that they are more likely to experience both depression and anxiety than others who do not face the same circumstances.

The history of African Americans and mental health has been a long one, but is mainly centered on how slavery affected the people. Even in this day and age, it can still be difficult to find a physician that is capable of understanding what the black culture might go through when dealing with mental health issues. The first question to ask is how is mental health defined? Mental health is the emotional, psychological and social well-being of an individual. There are four main domains that encompass this definition: self-concept, interpersonal relationships, community engagement and life activities. Those four elements are used to help an individual deal with their everyday life issues by addressing those issues head on or by seeking professional medical attention. This can be done through therapy or medication.

Black people and mental health have been long connected due to the amount of instances where black people were treated inhumanely by other races. The first thought for many is slavery, but there are a lot of things prior to slavery that contributed to the current situation that African Americans find themselves in today when it comes to mental health. Slavery is where most of this history began and was eventually seen as a means for survival. This was because the African Americans were seen as second-rate citizens by many, even though they had done nothing wrong and were more than capable of doing what they were being forced upon.

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