The African American experience in America has and continues to be characterized by trauma and violence more often than for their White counterparts and impacts emotional and mental health of both youth and adults. Historical dehumanization, oppression, and violence against African American people has evolved into present day racism – structural, institutional, and individual – and cultivates a uniquely mistrustful and less affluent community experience, characterized by a myriad of disparities including inadequate access to and delivery of care in the healthcare system. Help-seeking behavior is affected by mistrust of the medical system and often begins with faith-based outreach.
African American people are more likely to experience chronic and persistent, rather than episodic, mental health conditions.
Mental health is an essential part of overall physical health and satisfaction. The African American community suffers from an increased rate of mental health concerns, including anxiety and depression. The increased incidence of psychological difficulties in the African American community is related to the lack of access to appropriate and culturally responsive mental health care, prejudice and racism inherent in the daily environment of African American individuals, and historical trauma enacted on the African American community by the medical field.
Destigmatizing mental health can be achieved by helping people, especially in the African American community, to understand that mental health is an essential part of well-being — just like a healthy diet, sleep and exercise.
These ideas often lead people to believe that a mental health condition is a personal weakness due to negative stereotypes of instability and attitudes of rejection. Because of this lack of information about mental health issues in the African American community, it is not always clear when one may need it or where to find help.
Support Is Important
- Educating African Americans about the importance of Mental Health
- Educating the African American community on behaviors that support proper Mental Health needs
- Increasing awareness about the need for intervention and routine wellness check ups
- How to effectively support patients and their caretakers with obtaining effective Mental healthcare
- Provide training and information to healthcare & public health professionals, regarding specific issues affecting Mental Health among African Americans.
- Develop culturally tailored, faith-based tools and resources to be utilized by the health ministries to raise awareness about Mental Health specifically affecting African Americans within their congregations and communities.