Jason Howard Green

Jason Howard Green

Friday, May 21, 2021

Mental Health Awareness Month and Black Folks

 

May is Mental Health Awaress month and in case you didn't know, Black folks are exhausted yall.  2020 and 2021 have been devastating on us physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.  More and more black folks are killed by police.  So many folks are not working right now.  The social isolation created by the pandemic causing separation from friends and family.  The loss of family members and friends as a direct result of COVID.  I know everyone is suffering from the pandemic and thankfully it looks like we are moving to the other side of it.  But I wanted to take a moment to address black folks and mental health and ask "where do we go from here?"

Many of us have reservations about healthcare and the medical community and rightfully so.  Black folks and relationship with medical providers have a very tepid history.  The Tuskegee Experiment had black folks used as guinea pigs with syphilis testing.  The story of Henrietta Lacks is one where cells from body were literally taken without her consent and used for science. I have heard tales from countless black folks who say they don't like going to the doctor because the doctor "doesn't listen to them."

I think, in addition to addressing the flaws of medical professionals that treat our physical health, we also need to address our mental health - and we need to do this as a community.  I still know a lot of people that would never consider seeing therapist or a counselor to address issues with their mental health.  For some, it's because it may be a sign of weakness.  For some, they feel "as long as I got Jesus, I don't need anything else."  But we need to get beyond this people.  

You can't show up for work, you can't be there for friends and family, and you can't even fully take care of self if you are not taking care of your mental health.  Do you know how much damage is happening to the black psyche when we repeatedly see black bodies killed by the police?  Black folks are at a higher risk in almost every health issue their is - heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, even HIV/AIDS.  How can you think of history in the U.S., and now be overwhelmed?  

Black folks - find someone you can talk to and embrace mental health as a part of your healthcare self care.  Many jobs offer access to therapist in their benefit packets now.  Take advantage of these benefits.  And know that there are many black and brown counselors out there, so if you take the time a look, you can find folks that look like you that you can talk to.  I think this also takes away from the stigma.  

I really feel like the pandemic is almost behind us.  But black folks, the end of the pandemic does not signal the end of our trauma.  We still live in a racist world where it seems our lives don't matter. And when you a black person that lives under the umbrella of intersectionality (i.e. black and queer, black and disabled), our mental health issues are magnified.  So I will make a final plea - take care of yourself, so you can take care those things and those people important to you.  

1 comment:

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