Mental illness is a silent killer, especially in the black community where we are plagued with depression and anxiety due to economic, historical, political, and social influences that expose us to factors known to be destructive to psychological health. Due to systematic barriers, the black community continues to be over-represented in high-risk populations – prisons, foster care, poverty. These traumas are known to negatively impact mental health. Not to mention our ongoing battle with racism, classism, inequality, and oppression. Research findings indicate that this level of trauma can cause changes in brain chemistry that can be genetically encoded and passed down from generation to generation.
Because of the stigma associated with mental health in the black community, our issues often go untreated. We may consider mental health issues a personal weakness or have trouble discerning if we actually need help and where to get it. Less access to adequate health insurance and financial insecurity also factor in to our mental health crisis. Pair that with the mistrust of the medical system due to the abuse, and discrimination the Black people faced at the hands of doctors and the lack of culturally responsive mental health professionals and you get a race of people suffering in silence. Instead of seeking a professional, we seek religious coping methods like prayer and pastoral guidance when the answer should be a healthy combination of both.