Why Does Mental Health Matter?

What You Need To Know

Although anyone can develop a mental health problem, African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers. According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Common mental health disorders among African Americans include:

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), African Americans are also more likely to experience certain factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition: 

  • Homelessness. People experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of developing a mental health condition. African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population.
  • Exposure to violence increases the risk of developing a mental health condition such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. African American children are more likely to be exposed to violence than other children.

In the African American community, many people misunderstand what a mental health condition is and don’t talk about this topic. This lack of knowledge leads many to believe that a mental health condition is a personal weakness or some sort of punishment from God. African Americans may be reluctant to discuss mental health issues and seek treatment because of the shame and stigma associated with such conditions. 

Many African Americans also have trouble recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions, leading to underestimating the effects and impact of mental health conditions. Some may think of depression as “the blues” or something to snap out of.

Because of the lack of information about mental health issues, it’s not always clear where to find help when you may need it. Fortunately, YOU came to the right place to learn about what mental health conditions are and how to access treatments and supports.

Don’t let fear of what others may think prevent you or a loved one from getting better. One in 5 people is affected by mental illness. This means that, even if we don’t talk about it, most likely we have one of these illnesses or know someone who does.


According to the US HHS Office of Minority Health:

  • Adult African Americans are 20 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult Caucasians. 

  • Adult African Americans living below poverty are three times more likely to report serious psychological distress than those living above poverty.  

  • Adult African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than are adult Caucasians.