The mental health of Black boys is a national concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in seven Black males between ages 6 and 17 has experienced one or more traumatic stressors such as physical or sexual abuse, exposure to domestic violence, or the death of a parent. Depression, neglect, and toxic masculinity are key factors as well in this widespread issue of mental health. Society must address these issues now, or risk losing our future leaders. This article will focus on the mental health issue and educate people to understand the importance of ‘emotion’ in building resilience in young African American males in the United States.
The effects of mental health issues among African American boys are being ignored by society. Boys are expected to be strong, independent, and powerful from a young age. They must be able to control their emotions. Unfortunately, mental health doesn’t always show. As a result, depression goes unnoticed as well as their hearts and many other mental illnesses. The negative effects of toxic masculinity can be destructive for black boys and men. Painting a persona that men should feel or be emotional is toxic.
The more systems, programs, and providers find culturally relevant ways to foster Black men’s mental health, the more society will benefit from the true royalty Black men have to offer.
While Black Americans experience similar rates of mental illness as other Americans in general, there are contextual differences. Statistically, according to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, African Americans living below the poverty line are 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than U.S. adults who enjoy greater financial security.
The truth about mental health for Black boys and men is that there are several factors that are contributing to its high rate. Neglect at a young age and toxic masculinity can lead to feelings of hopelessness. While suicide, depression, and anxiety are the result of it not being taken care of properly. Toxic masculinity is not only taught in the streets but by the male “role models” in the families.
They say the people who appear the happiest are the very same people going through the most trauma and mental instability. Not talking about mental health keeps the person in their own bubble. People are at war in their minds with themselves. Over time, a person literally loses their mind and loses that war. As a result, many fall victim to suicide. Black men are not receiving the help they need for these problems. Faith and spirituality can help in the recovery process and be an important part of a treatment plan. Alongside professional help from therapists.
Being subjected to racism, discrimination and inequity can significantly affect the mental health of Black men. The fact that colored men, Black and brown, have a natural instinct to look over their shoulders. Based on the communities they live in and knowing what they know about the racial stigmas of the people in that community. Black men are automatic weapons to the whitewashed society. Being treated as “less than” because of the color of your skin can be stressful and even traumatizing.
How Does Racism Effect Mental Instability
Structural racism and Black men’s unique history in this country, their mental health and treatment are intimately tied to factors such as implicit bias on the part of medical providers, high poverty rates, and low access to quality psychological and psychiatric services. They are also more likely to use emergency rooms or primary care for mental health problems because they have not received appropriate preventive services. Looking at it from a Black person’s perspective on health services, not all African American people don’t understand the benefits of having a good health insurance. Whereas, compared to the white citizen, they are not sitting in a waiting room for hours on end waiting to receive help.
Therefore, Black men and boys are at a higher risk for serious mental health challenges. The perception that black men are tough and fearless, especially when dealing with depression, leads to the belief that they should be able to overcome their challenges without help. But at-risk mental health can lead to suicide as mentioned before, incarceration, substance abuse, and even homicide. Being tough is not an excuse for neglecting oneself. It is imperative that people fight to ensure that Black boys and men have access to the mental health services they need.
Written By: Johnitha Brown
American Psychological Association: Black men’s mental health matters by Tori DeAngeli
Talkspace: Why Black Men Face Greater Mental Health Challenges by Jor-El Caraballo
Forbes: Black Masculinity and Mental Health: What Black Men Should Consider About Their Emotional and Mental Wellness by Maia Niguel Hoskin, PhD
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