The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
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Health and Wellness

The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

We are so afraid of being that crazy black woman or that crazy black man, that we deny our own mental heath. It's time to stop.

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The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste
J. Chavae

By now, everyone knows about Kanye West's mental breakdown. It's sad, honestly. In my opinion, he never had time to cope with the death of his mother back in '07, and now it's taking a tole on him. Right after she passed away, West came out with a brand new album, and formulated an entire Grammy performance (which of course he dedicated to his mom, and came out with his song "Hey Mama", a tribute to the late Donda West). He was expected to stay the same old Kanye, while dealing with grief. Part of me knows that fame played a huge role in his breakdown, but what if I told you that he was already at risk for a break simply because he is a black man?

I know what you're thinking. "Way to bring race into it, Deavon!" No, I'm being totally serious. For some reason, mental health in the Black/African American community is so taboo, that people would much rather live with the horrors going on in their own head rather than talking to someone who can help them. Let me throw some facts at you. According to the United States Census Bureau (2014), "13.2 % of the U.S. population, or roughly 45.7 million people, identify themselves as Black or African American". 16% of those people had a diagnosable mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014).

So if there are so many people that have these mental illnesses, why aren't they reported or treated? According to a study conducted by Ward, Wiltshire, Detry, and Brown in 2013, stigma is a huge issue in the black community. We are so afraid to be labeled as "that crazy black man/woman" that we deny our own mental health. Research shows that black/African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Many believe that mental health isn't an appropriate conversation to have even with family.

How do we fight this? How do we fix this? It's simple. It's time to speak up about mental health. Sometimes it isn't just a few bad days. "It's all in your head." Yeah, that's why you should get it checked up! If your mind isn't right, then the rest of you can't function. You need to be around for your family and your friends. There are people who love and care for and about you. You owe them (and yourself) the best version of you! The only way that can be achieved is if we stick together and start telling the truth about what's going on in our minds. Of course, the best method is EDUCATION. There are several sites, brochures, and articles that can help you. Find a mental health specialist you trust. Do some research and even find a black/African American mental health specialist. There are so many ways to take care of your mental health. There are no more excuses.

Another way to help is to stop the stigma. Stop judging people. I found that a lot of people have been laughing at Kanye West in this situation. It's honestly not funny. Mental health issues aren't a laughing matter, especially in the black/African American community. In a world where black teens are more likely to commit suicide than white teens, it's time to stop treating mental health like a joke and to start actually treating mental health in general. If your friend or family member shows signs of depression or anxiety, encourage them to open up about it. Never tell someone "It's all in your head." That's why it's a problem, because it's in their head. Today, I pledge to help my fellowman if they show signs of mental illness. Today, I pledge to put a stop the the stigma. Today, I pledge to be educated on mental health. It starts with us, and ends with a brighter future.


Educational Materials

(Thank you to Mental Health America's website, www.mentalhealthamerica.net for these materials!)

Brochures

  • Depression and African Americans: Not Just the Blues
  • What is Bipolar Disorder? A Guide to Hope and Recovery for African Americans

Please contact Antionette Means for a free copy of these brochures.

Fact Sheets

Partnerships and Resources

The following organizations are among those that offer additional information on this subject, focusing on outreach to African-American communities:



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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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