Mental Health Issues Of the Black Community Remain Underreported

BY: - 19 Jul '12 | Lifestyle

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Did you know that July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month? This observance began in 2008 in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell, a noted author and mental health advocate. Campbell published books such as “Sometimes, My Mother Gets Angry” about a young girl who learns to deal with her mother’s bipolar disorder and “72 Hour Hold,” which is believed to have been inspired by Campbell’s own daughter, actress Maia Campbell, who suffered from mental illness.

An article by Joshunda Sanders of highlights the low levels of mainstream media coverage on the mental health issues within the African-American community. Sanders draws attention to the recent reports of Rudy Eugene, the man who chewed off the face of a homeless man in Miami, and the death of Don Cornelius who’s legacy was highlighted more than the health issues leading to his suicide.

She also writes about the lack of identification of African-American celebrity’s issues such as the media’s reporting of Laker’s player, Metta World Peace, formally known as Ron Artest as they mocked his condition rather than trying to understand it. World Peace, himself, has spoken publicly of his search for professional help.

“That history plays out in mainstream media coverage, but it also affects public discussions about mental health because it has so often been used to justify exclusion, segregation and inequality,” states David J. Leonard, author of “After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness” and associate professor of Washington State University under the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies.

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Do you feel that mental health still lies toward the bottom of media coverage within the Black community?

About the author

Stacie Bailey wrote 160 articles on this blog.

Stacie Bailey is a graduate of Quinnipiac University with a master's degree in Interactive Communications. She has strong interests in youth, social media and an overall love for sharing knowledge and information.


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13 WordPress comments on “Mental Health Issues Of the Black Community Remain Underreported

  1. Larie

    Do you feel that mental health still lies toward the bottom of media coverage within the Black community?
    Yes, I believe that mental health within the black community still lies toward the bottom of media coverage, but it’s like this because a lot of us are ashamed. We treat this issue as if it’s taboo which often times leads to tragic situations that could have been avoided had treatment been sought or at the least, if we just open up about it. I suffer from mental illness and I was in denial for a while all because I didn’t want to be stigmatized or treated differently. Besides, since no one talked about it I honestly thought it wasn’t real in the black community.

    1. Ayanna

      I too suffered from mental illness and like you, I denied it. I felt if I spoke about it I would be labeled “crazy”, considered unreliable, unstable, and so forth. It definitely is a real issue in our community and hopefully there is a point where we support one another and not judge. Prayer works but professional help can save lives.

  2. Megan Lee, LPC

    This subject is a primary reason I became a counselor. My primary focus is couples and the incidence of untreated mental health is often a factor in relationship dysfunction . Not only that but family of origin issues related to untreated mental health issues of parents. We as a people have to learn to ask for help and allow others to get help without stigma. I don’t necessarily mean medicinal help although in some cases that is necessary as well.

  3. no comment

    I started therapy earlier this yr and my therapist said she has always had black clients and she has been a therapist for almost 30 yrs. Her take on the matter is we don’t admit to going to therapy and I agreed because I told very few people I started therapy. Never thought I would need therapy but I am glad I sought help.

  4. Laneay L. London, MSW

    Yes I do! As a clinician I find it very disturbing that the criminal behavior portrayed in the media is attributed to the race of the person, always our people, and not to possible mental or behavioral disorders. The stigma among African American’s regarding mental health and the ability to cope with life’s stress seem to also be a problem. I found that it is viewed as admitting weakness instead of needing help. Our people are known, even in the text books, for their resiliency and ability to cope so admitting you can’t….is not characteristic of our people. This needs to stop!

  5. aniya j.

    Being that This forum is Black and Married with kids, I have a question related to mental health and marriage: Would you marry someone who has mental health issues and issues with family dysfunction?

    I’m 36 and feel that I could make someone very happy. But I have some esteem issues because of parental abandonment and other life experiences. I also have a history of depression. BUT I have worked very hard on my life, I have never used negative self destructiveness as a way to cope with life. I have had times when life has become somewhat overwhelming but I have never given up and by the grace of God I have always gotten better and achieved more. But there is just something inside of me that says that A decent man, if he knew my story would find my issues way to deep to deal with. Or he is gonna get a hint of my imperfections and not even want to get to know me. I don’t know what do you all think…

    1. derrick anderson

      Dear Aniya, whatever you do be very honest with the man your with. i wish i could of had that honesty from my Ex-girlfriend it would of saved the beatiful family we started together. Don’t mak the same terrible mistake.

      1. aniya j.

        I’m honest with myself, I wouldn’t wanna be with someone and have to hide something about myself! It is his reaction that I’m afraid of. BTW I am not with anyone now.

        I take it that your answer is yes you would date someone with mental health problems in their background if they would be honest with you and tell you exactly what you are dealing with?

        I wish you could elaborate about your situation…

  6. Eliss

    I work in mental health, and this is one health ailment that plagues our community. We have so many negative ideologies towards mental health, and it’s very detrimental to our overall health (i.e. physical, emotional, spiritual). My husband is Italian, and trust me…it’s the same over there too. They don’t respect mental health either.

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