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. 


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  1. April 27, 2017 by Juliet Allan

    These statistics are fascinating, and I had no idea there were so few African American professionals in the mental health profession. Thank you for raising awareness!

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      Hi Ms.Allan! Thank you for the positive thoughts 🙂

  2. April 27, 2017 by Dr. Ursin

    I especially like your idea for a discussion of the messages we receive in hip hop about masculinity, mental health, etc. I think there’s a lot of potential for close analysis of lyrics to see where artists are basically laying out the things that can provoke mental health issues…and then seeing whether any artists also identify outlets or productive coping strategies. Good job!

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      I never thought about the coping mechanism Dr.Ursin! I like that idea of expanding my solution to look at specific artist and their strategies.

  3. April 28, 2017 by Aylish F

    This is such an underdeveloped narrative, and you are making huge steps with this awareness and #blackmentalhealthmatters. I especially liked how you phrased “empathetic, not sympathetic” in regards to talking to someone who looks like yourself.

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      Thank you. I hope one day it can be fully narrated!

  4. April 28, 2017 by kala

    this is so eye opening. we as a community do not take this as seriously as we should. we cant keep ignoring this issue like it will just solve its self. people out here really struggling and its sad to think that they wont get help.

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      Right! I’m hoping my solution can help the issue! Thanks for the feedback Kala.

  5. April 28, 2017 by Trinity F

    This is an amazing and enlightening article. I had never thought about the effects African-Americans’ history could have on the way our community treats Mental health issues. This piece gave me a new perspective on the mental health world in America. Great job!

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      Thank you Trinity!

  6. April 28, 2017 by Alexa T

    This project is so well done. The formats you used (prezi & Youtube video) conveyed the entire page in a very understandable way. I personally had no idea the statistics for African-Americans in the mental health field were so incredibly low, and it’s unfortunate that the majority of people are unaware of these statistics as well (yay for raising awareness!). I also liked how you highlighted that getting help sometimes meaning needing more than just someone to talk to, but it also means having someone to talk to AND relate to. 🙂

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      Yes!! Thank you Alexa!

  7. April 28, 2017 by Asha N

    Such a well done page that discusses Black Mental Health, which rarely talked about.

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      Thank you Asha!

  8. April 28, 2017 by Anna Bacon Moore

    I had not seen the statistic that only 2% of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers were African American. That’s a staggering number of process. Seeing the number alone makes me feel a little frozen in terms of action steps, so I appreciate that your research led you to a plan of action to raise awareness and address this! I love that you are creating a social media presence. Can I ask you to consider a Twitter platform? As a mental health professional myself, I find a lot of powerful information, communication and advocacy happening through twitter. Also, I wonder if the national organization of Active Minds has any information on mental health in African Americans. I would spend some time checking out their site. And, if they don’t have it, please tell them about what you are doing because it’s awesome. Great job!

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      Thank you Dr.Moore! I think twitter would be a great platform especially since it’s a nice intermediate platform that includes all ages so parents, students, teachers, etc can all get the word. I’ll take a look at the Active Minds website for more information 🙂

  9. April 28, 2017 by Emma C

    Hey Kelsey! I absolutely love your project you seem to be so passionate about it and that really shows through in all of your research! Your page is organized so clearly and concise – I can tell that you put a lot of time and effort into it (and it paid off!) I love the Prezi you made too: it did a really good job of explaining more of the facts behind your cause and how you plan to tackle this very big very ignored problem! I can’t wait to see how it all turns out at school 🙂

    • April 29, 2017 by Kelsey

      Thank you Emma!!

  10. May 03, 2017 by Yasmin

    Hey kelsey, I really enjoyed looking at your project. This is such a great idea, and I’ve thought about this too. There are very few black people who work in the mental health field, which is one of the reasons why I would like to pursue a degree in psychology. Your project is so great! Love it.

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