Having depression as an African American isn’t easy

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Depression in the African American community is being overlooked. Depression takes people’s enjoyment found in everyday life and can even often lead to suicide. It has always been taboo to seek counseling. People automatically think you’re crazy. Men especially don’t seek care.

I think this stems from slavery and the need to be strong and not show emotion. A lot of black people died because they had depression and they couldn’t show it.

Statistics from Mental Health America show less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black/African American. Some may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues. This is compounded by the fact that some Black/African American patients have reported experiencing racism and microaggression from therapists. The truth is that depression is treatable, and untreated depression should not be a normal part of life for any African American, regardless of age or life situation.

In the African American community, depression affects women more than men in most cases. Depression may be expressed differently among African Americans. Racism continues to have an impact on the mental health of Black/African Americans. People who are broke, homeless, in jail or have substance abuse problems are at high risks for having depression. According to Mental Health America, Black/ African Americans today are over-represented in our jails and prisons. African Americans may be reluctant to discuss mental health issues and seek treatment because of shame. For males in the Black community, acknowledging depression or any mental illness is looked at as a sign of weakness. Depression is overlooked by males because of pride; they are raised to always be strong and not to show any emotion. Some African Americans do not want to admit that we suffer from depression like every other race. They don’t like to go to the doctor’s office so they use tobacco or other drugs to help them cope with the pain.

African American teenage girls can also have depression too. She might be going through stuff at school and she might have too much on her plate and she can’t handle it all. She may also have a job to help her family out with the bills and to put food on the table or she just may have to watch her little siblings. All of these things can add to the stress and anxiety of life and may lead to depression. Teen boys can have depression, too, because they are going to school every day and they may not be able to afford all the brand new stuff that comes out every week so they get made fun of for not having the things that the other teenagers have.

The lack of access to healthcare contributes to Black people having fewer experiences and opportunities for counseling or therapy. This lack of access can affect Black mental health in ways different than the mainstream.

It is important not to separate Black People from depression. What affluent Black people are able to do and have access to is very different than Black people from poorer areas. In Lansing, we can find the help we need but it will be a little harder. Depression is being overlooked and we all need to come together to help each other and get depression straightened out.

 

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Kaila Williams

Current Graphics Editor of The Viking Voice

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