The conversation surrounding mental health in the Black community has increased over the years with the increased number of police-related killings, the COVID-19 pandemic, and more awareness and understanding surrounding the trauma that one experiences just by being black in America.
Statistically, Black men are less likely to report mental and psychological issues. According to a 2021 study by the American Psychological Association, less than 30% of Black men who experienced daily feelings of anxiety or depression were likely to use mental health services. In addition, when Black men seek help, they find it difficult to find Black psychologists or culturally sensitive mental health practitioners. Distrust and Implicit bias by medical providers, lack of access to quality mental health services combined with socio-economic factors also prove as barriers for Black men seeking treatment or care.
Society’s definition of manhood and masculinity also plays a huge role in why many Black men suffer in silence when dealing with issues of anxiety, depression, and other issues surrounding mental health. Fear of being perceived as “soft” or “weak”, many avoid solutions like therapy because they’ve been taught over generations to “wear the armor” and push their emotions to the side. The result for many is a ticking time bomb that gradually chips away at their physical and mental health.
May is National Mental Health Month and the Chicago Defender spoke with advocate, Matthew Kincaid about the effects of systemic racism and societal pressures on Black men and what society can do the minimize the stigma around Black men prioritizing their emotional and mental well-being.
In 2021, Mayor Lori Lightfoot launched a program to help residents access quality mental health services in Chicago. The website includes a resource finder and a crisis assistance response and engagement (CARE) program fully integrated with the city’s 911 response system. Individuals work with a team of professionals who can help connect residents to community resources and supports.
Please visit https://mentalhealth.chicago.gov/ for more information and resources.