Our Mental Health Matters Too
My interest in breaking down the stigmas and hopefully providing outlets centered around mental health for Black teens all started in 9th grade. I’m fortunate to go to a school that doesn’t ignore the significance of mental health conditions or awareness; however, as I’ve grown to understand my culture as a Black female I’ve noticed a huge disconnect between the White world of mental health and the Black world of mental health. As I look around at the statistics of teens with eating disorders, suffering from anxiety, contemplating suicide, and the outlets we fortunately have at my school I soon realized the mental health crisis our students are learning about barely applies to me. My community’s issues come from the denial of mental health conditions and the lack of trust worthy outlets (mental
health professionals) to rely on when troubled.
In order to identify my challenge, I had to work backwards to understand how the adverse treatment towards the Black community might have affected our denial and ignorance towards mental health conditions. Instead of taking you on a history lesson, I’d like to sum up through an image how the transition from slavery, to Jim Crow Laws, and Institutionalized racism all contribute to my communities current mindset.
So you may be asking…why not just get help? Help would be easier to get if this weren’t the case.
Talking to someone who looks like you and has an empathic, not sympathetic, understanding of how your culture has an impact on your mental health can make the process of going to a mental health professional more comfortable and as common as visiting your general doctor for a cold. So how do we learn to be comfortable with discussions about mental health and encourage the Black community to pursue careers in the field of mental health?
In order to change our current stigma we have to reach the portion that’s vulnerable and passionate to change what’s going on. Young Black youth in learning environments such as sport leagues, Sunday schools, or high school need to learn about the adverse history of African Americans that translates to our current mindset and ignorance towards mental health and the encouragement to study mental health while providing outlets for professional mental health advisors because there’s a lack of representation of African Americans in the field pf psychiatry which doesn’t allow youth to see leaders and knowledge professionals that look like them in an important field.
My solution is to create a program named #Blackmentalhealthmatters (Click pink link below)
This is a video
of my solution on Prezi. Unfortunately I had to speed it up to fit the size requirements, but just pause accordingly to see each section!
My next steps are talking to my counselor about gathering the resources and making the connections to other Black mental health professionals to bring into my program. I need to follow up with my dad and take advantage of his resources in the business and fundraising side of creating awareness of my challenge and solution. He also can help provide some of the guest speaker since his deep connections in the Black entrepreneurship world.
Dedeaux, Tonya. Telephone interview. By Kelsey Russell. 16 Mar. 2016.