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:
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:
Being depressed often feels like carrying a very heavy burden, but you are not alone in this struggle. Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression every year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country. Gaining a deeper understanding of depression can help begin the journey to recovery. Taking some time to learn more about the causes and symptoms of depression will assist you greatly when it comes time to consider methods of treatment.
Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. For example, you may feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different, though. They are a group of mental illnesses, and the distress they cause can keep you from carrying on with your life normally.
For people who have one, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be disabling. But with treatment, many people can manage those feelings and get back to a fulfilling life.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD.
Addiction is a complex condition, a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. People with addiction have an intense focus on using a certain substance(s), such as alcohol or drugs, to the point that it takes over their life. They keep using alcohol or a drug even when they know it will cause problems. Yet a number of effective treatments are available and people can recover from addiction and lead normal, productive lives.The misuse of drugs and alcohol is the leading cause of preventable illnesses and premature death.