African-Americans and Mental Health: What You Need to Know

Mental health is important to Blacks.


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May Is Mental Health Month! - This month is Mental Health Month. Mental health is an issue that is extremely important to African-Americans. We are 20 percent more likely to experience serious psychological distress compared to whites. Read more about the mental health issues that we face, the stigma around seeking care and tips on improving your state of mind. — Kellee Terrell (Photo: GettyImages)


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What Is Mental Health? - It’s important to point out that mental health and mental illness are not the same thing. Mental health is the ability to successfully cope with the stressors of our lives — kids, school, environment, work, etc. According to the CDC, mental illnesses are a collection of “diagnosable mental disorders” such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. (Photo: GettyImages)


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What Makes Up Our Mental Health? - Most mental health professionals look at three indicators to assess our mental health. There is emotional well-being, which is happiness and life satisfaction. There is psychological well-being, which is self-acceptance and optimism. Finally, social well-being — sense of community and sense of self-worth.  (Photo: GettyImages)


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The Link Between Social Determinants and Mental Health - It’s really important to understand that social determinants — circumstances we are born into and the oppression that comes with that — most definitely impact our mental health. Lack of adequate housing, safe neighborhoods, equitable jobs and wages, quality education and equal access to quality health care all have an affect on how we see ourselves and the world around us.  (Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Can Antidepressants Cure Sickle Cell? - Giving antidepressants to those who suffer from sickle cell anemia is showing promise in treating the disease, reported The Huffington Post. Researchers from University of Michigan believe this type of treatment might reverse the disease?s effects, yet they admit that it?s too early to know for sure.  (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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African-Americans and Mental Health - Given that poverty and other social determinants raise our risk for having poor mental health, African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to suffer from serious psychological distress compared to whites. We are also less likely to be prescribed anti-depressants and more likely to stop treatment or take prescribed medications. And while our suicide rates are lower than whites, our rates have increased more than 200 percent in the past 25 years.  (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


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Stigma Around Seeking Help - Too many times when it comes to feeling down or being depressed, we are often told “prayer will solve everything” or to just “get over it” or only “weak people need therapy.” And for men, the stigma can be even greater: “Real men” don’t talk about their emotions or “real men” don’t cry. This kind of thinking is dangerous because it stops us from seeking the care that we so desperately need.  (Photo: GettyImages)


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Other Barriers to Care - Lack of access to insurance and mental health care is a serious barrier to seeking treatment. Other barriers to consider: The lack of culturally competent doctors who understand the nuances of race, gender, class and mental health issues. There is also our own mistrust of the medical community that makes us think twice about “airing our business out.” (Photo: GettyImages)

Psychologists - Psychologists may find a new home in Canada or Australia. Both nations are looking for immigrants in this profession. (Photo: Getty Images/STOCK)

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Why Therapy Is OK - Talking to a therapist or joining a support group can be really helpful. Please know that you are not “crazy” for wanting professional help — you are incredibly brave. Even better: There are Black mental health providers and support groups that you can go to, who will speak to you in the language that you understand. Learn where you can find a Black therapists and counselor here.  (Photo: GettyImages)

Getting My Om On! - Recently, I went to Cali to visit a friend and we went to yoga twice when I was there. I felt more calm and relaxed than I had been in a really long time. Thankfully my new gym offers yoga classes. No gym membership? No problem. Try taking classes in your living room online via Hulu or On Demand. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Ways to Improve Your Mental Health - Not everyone needs therapy to cope with stress. There are some lifestyle changes that can help. University of Michigan researchers offer up these tips: Value yourself, exercise more often, surround yourself with good people, volunteer and give back to others, cut back on drugs and alcohol and reach out for help when you need it.  (Photo: GettyImages)


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Dealing With Stress - Stress is part of life and it can have dangerous outcomes if not dealt with properly. To reduce stress, try working out more. Also think about writing in a diary, meditating or getting a pet. Studies have shown that pet owners have less anxiety and have higher self-esteem than non-pet owners.  (Photo: GettyImages)