Black And Broken: How Mental Health Disparities Are Affecting Minorities

African-Americans Are Receiving Inferior Care. What's The Cause? And What Can We Do About It?

“I think a lot of African Americans will say like, ‘Oh, you know, you just need to pray.’ No, you need to go talk to a therapist.”

Diagnoses of anxiety and depression have been on the rise in our country in the past 50 years. Famous faces are openly discussing their bouts with mental illness. But as much as these problems affect us in today’s world, these remain hushed topics talked about behind closed doors.

Multiple studies show that stigmas exist against those with mental health problems. But this issue is even worse among minority groups. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Black and Hispanic people use counseling services at half the rate of their White counterparts.

In this video, BuzzFeed video creator Briana Byrd explained what it’s like to tell black friends and family members about issues she was going through.

“I think a lot of African Americans will say like, ‘Oh, you know, you just need to pray,’” Byrd said in the video. “No, you need to go talk to a therapist.

A journal published in the American Association of Psychology reported that, compared to wealthier, White patients, members of different ethnic communities receive inferior treatment. A number of reasons like poverty, access, and stigma are listed as potential causes of differential treatment, according to the 2012 National Healthcare Disparities Report and the Health Services Research study.

In honor of July being Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI created multiple videos featuring people sharing their stories of recovery. This video centered on African-Americans who have worked through their mental health struggles.

“I really at one point thought, wow, maybe Black people don’t recover,” a woman named Keris Myrick said in the video. “Do people who look like me recover? Because I’m not seeing it.”

Millions of Americans are currently suffering from a debilitating mental illness. It could be a friend, a coworker, or a family member–and we may not even be aware of their pain. But we can end the stigma through our actions and words. If we strive to be attentive, caring, and willing to listen, it can be the first step in changing a person’s life — and maybe, the first in changing the way we look at mental illness.

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