The struggle is real for black men who deal with mental health issues

Zipporah Baldwin | Staff Writer

Blackboyjoy
Courtesy of Zipporah Baldwin

Mental health issues have attempted to snatch the crowns from the heads of black kings, especially through the struggles that only men of color face. Mental health and the black community are rarely associated with one another, but the time is now to address the elephant in the room.

“Mental health issues amongst black men are widespread and highly overlooked,” freshman Bryce McCain said.

Whether it is a past, present or future battle with overthinking, social anxiety, insecurity, self-rejection or depression, alongside other common concerns, take this as a reminder that you are not alone.

According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, “African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.” This is due to discrimination, racial disparities and more.

“A lot of mental health issues that black men deal with come from discrimination,” said Andre Ray, a sophomore cybersecurity major. “The way that society has treated black men has had a traumatic impact on the way that black men think.”

Tradition says that women are the only individuals who harbor passionate emotion or show any sign of sensitivity. Despite what black social norms tell us, a man is not suddenly a woman simply because he makes the decision to address and resolve his own mental and emotional health matters.

Regarding the correlation between black men and mental health awareness, sophomore Steven Williams said, “There is none. The black man is misunderstood, especially in terms of communication. There needs to be more black representation in the mental health care industry.”

Remember these 3 B’s:

  1. Be YOU!

Why would you ever want to be anything other than the beautiful black king that you are? You are enough.

Others do not define joy for a black man – not family, not friends nor foes. So, cultivate the environment in which you desire to thrive.

 

  1. Be a conqueror.

Recognize the problem by educating yourself on what it means to be mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. The resources are readily available to you; it is up to you to increase your awareness on how to identify, prevent and solve the issues.

Address the problem by doing what you can within your power to improve your situation. A powerful method is replacing all negative thoughts concerning yourself with positive self-affirmations. Your words contain power.

Consider embracing a confidant. Whether it’s your mother, sister, a counselor, a mentor or even a trusted professor – consider talking with someone that you trust. Never feel ashamed to seek a specialized health care professional who can provide you with the necessary assistance to move forward.

 

  1. Be a brother.

Once you have secured your black boy joy, consider sharing it with a fellow king. Sometimes, we are unaware of what goes on behind closed doors. Offer a word of encouragement today. A few kind words have the power to positively impact the course of an entire day.

It is OK to feel, it is OK to seek help and it is OK to not be OK, as long as you work toward bettering your circumstances.

Debunking common myths associated with mental disorders

Alexus Baldwin | Contributing Writer

It is common for people to be more sympathetic for someone who is being afflicted by something that can be physically seen, such as a person who has lost their skin pigment in patches due to vitiligo.

However, when someone is suffering from a mental disorder and other psychiatric issues, it can be far less noticeable, unless time is spent with them daily. In today’s society, people tend to keep their pain very secretive in fear of judgment and shame.

Dr. Stanley Jones, former professor from Youngstown, Ohio, said that because teens perceive oral therapy as unnecessary, psychiatrists have to use a different method of therapy.

“Psychiatrists today try to approach their patients by the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy instead of being old fashioned and just talking,” Jones said.

According to Jones, this method “works on changing irrational thoughts and behaviors that are causing the patient serious problems.”

Jones also said it’s best to start treatments early.

“The longer you wait to be treated, and if you miss that window of opportunity to do so, [the harder] it will become,” he said.

Another myth, according to research, is that people can outgrow mental health disorders. In actuality, people are more likely to develop a disorder rather than grow out of one. If a person has a mental disorder as a child and is never treated for it early, it can make adulthood more difficult.

For example, if a child is depressed, this could cause them to fall behind in school. This mental disorder could hinder the child’s learning abilities and shorten his or her attention span.

Without proper knowledge of mental disorders, people are more likely to make assumptions and develop misconceptions. It is easier to understand people who live with mental health disorders once you become educated about them.

“A lot of people tend to think suffering from bipolar disorder can only have effects on a person’s mood, when that is not true,” said Marcellus Williams, a graduate student from Hampton. “When you suffer from this mental disorder, not only is it affecting your energy levels, [but also your] self-esteem, concentration and even your memory as well. I believe that everyone should educate themselves on this disorder instead of believing what they only hear.”

People who suffer from mental health disorders are still capable of having successful lives. They can still build families, buy houses and obtain great jobs. All of these goals can be met with healthy coping skills, a stable support system and treatment.