If Black Lives Matter, So Should Black Mental Health

If Black Lives Matter, So Should Black Mental Health

Within weeks we lost three promising young Black adults to suicide, Actor and producer Regina King’s son Ian Alexander Jr., Cheslie Kryst, the 2019 winner of the Miss USA pageant and a correspondent for the entertainment news program “Extra.” and an Actor from the TV show The Walking Dead, Moses J. Mosely. These unfortunate incidents remind us that there is a crisis and the need to have actual discussions about anxiety, depression, and mental health within Black culture.

Depression is becoming more prevalent in Black communities than in white ones, but significant differences exist. Black people face different social trauma that may increase their risk of depression.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Leading Causes of Death in their report from 2018.

If you are not living in a bubble, you should have noticed that suicide rates have significantly increased among Black youth over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, our eyes remain closed to an emergence of a mental health crisis in black communities.

White people often overlook and dismiss the fact that Black people may develop different symptoms of depression and are less likely to seek or remain in treatment.

Part of the problem is the unspoken racial bias in our Healthcare providers. In many cases, they fail to treat depression in Black people and sometimes fail to notice and treat depression in Black people. Some reports suggest that medical doctors are less likely to recognize or take a wide range of health symptoms seriously when it involves Black people.

Black trauma is real! We are in 2022, and we are still talking about the first Black this and the first Black that. We are still facing trauma just to be recognized as human beings and lack the treatment from the medical community to acknowledge that fact when it comes to mental health.

Managing depression should be essential in the Black community, just like any other community. Finding racially sensitive treatment may be necessary to address how Black people deal mentally with racial trauma and discrimination.

If Black lives matter, then Black mental health should matter also. As a law enforcement professional of over 30 years, I fully support the efforts of police reform. When we march and rally for Black Lives taken by a system and fail to put the same zeal and passion for addressing mental health and wellness in Black communities that kill more Black people than police is hypocritical. The fact of the matter is:

In 2014, 2,421 African Americans died by suicide in the US. Of these, 1,946 were male (80.38%). The overall suicide rate per 100,000 was 5.46.

In 2014, there were 475 African American female suicides in the US. The suicide rate of African American females was the lowest among men and women of all ethnicities.

In 2015, researchers released data showing more suicides among African American children ages 5 to 11 than Caucasian children. This was the first national study to show higher suicide rates for African Americans than for Caucasians in any age group.

While most studies show that African American men are more likely to die by suicide while African American women are more likely to attempt suicide, recent research has observed that Caribbean black men in the US have the highest attempt rate in the African American community.

The suicide rate for African Americans ages 10-19 was 3.11 per 100,000.

For African American youth (ages 10-19), the rate of male suicides (4.60 per (100,000) was 2.9 times higher than that of females (1.57 per 100,000).

Males accounted for 81.5% of suicides completed by elderly African Americans (ages 65+). This percentage is mirrored by the suicides completed by elderly Caucasian men.

Firearms were the predominant method of suicide among African Americans regardless of sex or age, accounting for 47.42% of all suicides. Suffocation was the second most prevalent method (29.9%).

You’ll hear various answers if you ask a group of people who’ve suffered from clinical depression to define the illness. Depression is a very personal experience that millions of people worldwide experience.

Different people manifest different symptoms, but one thing is sure: depression is a complex illness that can destroy your life if left unresolved.

Many people with depression describe it as a sense of despair that engulfs everything they do and feel.

If you think being depressed is akin to feeling sad because your favorite team just lost the championship game, you have no idea what suffering from a true depression is like. Depression is much deeper and more invasive than sadness or frustration.

Depression takes everything away from you; it saps your energy, focus, concentration, and joy. You don’t care about anything; nothing matters and even the people you love become unimportant.

If you’re depressed for an extended period, you become accustomed to the feeling, and any other emotion becomes unfamiliar and even frightening.

Physical Concerns of Depression

Depression doesn’t only take its toll on your emotions and mental state; it can also cause serious physical problems. It also zaps your energy and motivation. Depression may cause you to either lose your appetite or eat incessantly.

When you’re depressed, you tend to become inactive. This alone can cause several problems, but when added to some of the other physical side effects of depression, it’s easy to see why depression is such a severe illness.

If you’ve ever mourned a profound loss or suffered from depression, you understand how overwhelming it can be. People of all ages, even children, can be depressed. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome your condition!

Here are the top five strategies to overcome your depression and regain your life:

Talk about it. If you are unable to concentrate on anything, have lost your appetite, or are over-eating, try talking to a family member or trusted friend.

  • Because you’re depressed, you may not be able to get the help you need alone, so enlisting someone you trust is essential.

  • Don’t feel embarrassed to talk about it. Chances are, the people you confide in will know more about depression than you think.

Seek professional help. Many people avoid this for what they feel are good reasons: “My insurance won’t cover it,” or “I can’t afford it.” In today’s society, this is simply untrue.

  • Many insurance companies offer compensation for depression treatment because it’s widely known as a severe medical condition. Plus, they aren’t allowed to release treatment information to your employer.

  • Even if you don’t have medical insurance, many mental health centers or hospitals offer treatment free or on a sliding scale based on your income to be affordable. Seek help for your depression – it’s the best thing you can do!

Become involved. Some people who suffer from depression find that the more they help others, the more they help themselves.

  • For instance, a woman who was consumed with depression went to school and became a licensed therapist. She used her own depression experience to heal others through her sessions with people.

  • Volunteer at a local center for seniors or abused families. Many people in these centers tend to be depressed, and working with them can give you insight into making yourself feel better.

Exercise. Surprisingly, exercise can help you feel better. Your body’s energy from yoga, walking, jogging, swimming, and fitness center exercise will help you immensely.

  • The endorphins released during exercise can bring relief from your depression and give you the motivation to fight it. 

  • Enlist a friend if you don’t want to exercise alone.

Get a pet. Animals of all sorts have been shown to help people with depression. Caring for a pet strengthens your ability to take on responsibilities. Plus, pets are joyful and can put a smile on your face!

  • Even if you have allergies, many breeds of cats and dogs don’t produce allergens.

These tips can help you fight your depression, but the most important is seeking professional help. A good therapist can suggest more techniques to help overcome your depression. Take these suggestions and add your creative spin to best suit your needs.

No advice can replace a complete examination by your doctor. Depression comes in many forms, and determining a treatment plan for your individual needs is required.

If you’re concerned about medication and side effects, many homeopathic remedies are available today that you can discuss with your health professional. Please make a list of your concerns and share them during the exam. This way, you’ll be actively involved in choosing a treatment plan.

With a suitable treatment plan overseen by your doctor, some support to bolster your spirits, and true determination, you can overcome your depression!

Remember, racial stereotypes exist in our healthcare system, so Black people who wish to seek help for depression should see treatment from culturally competent clinicians.

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