Our Mental Health Matters!

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How does your family treat mental illnesses?

Estephania Cherilus, Staff Writer

A stigma, fabrications of the mind. “It’s all in your head¨ or ¨Go pray and you´ll feel better.¨ Those are the sayings that ethnic/racial parents say to their children and have been saying for past generations.

It was spring 2018. My anxiety has been leading up to this exact moment, my first panic attack. The look of confusion on my mother’s face was all I truly remember. Later on, I got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder.

My parents never understood why my brain functions this way, but can you blame them when education on mental health was never accessible to them? There are some days where my mother sees the look of panic on my face and tells me, “Steph, let’s go. I know you are sick,¨as if having anxiety means I can explode at any moment and embarrass her.

Since then, I’ve gotten help through therapy which, of course, was a long battle that I fought for with my parents, and since then I’ve learned that countless racial and ethnic groups also suffer from poor mental health.

These are due to many factors like the inaccessibility to mental health services, and just overall lack of awareness and education on mental health.

I was one of the lucky ones to receive help. Sites like psychiatry.org state that only 1/3 of African Americans who need mental health care will receive it. Compared to non-ethnic groups, African Americans that suffer from a mental illness have lower rates of any mental health service and outpatient service, but higher use of in-patient service.

African Americans are less likely to be offered therapy, but even when therapy is offered, it can be a long process to find someone who looks like you so they can emotionally and physically understand you, which would make your road to recovery much easier.  With that being said, studies in 2015 showed that 86% of psychologists were White and only 4% were Black. 5% were Asian and 5% were Hispanic.

We lack serious diversity in the mental health service. The ongoing stigma within communities of color is also a major issue. People of color often feel like they’re being discriminated against, and feeling less than because of the color of your skin is already hard enough. Imagine adding a diagnosis of mental illness to that.

63% percent of Black people believe that mental illnesses are a sign of weakness, most of those being Black men. It can be difficult for Black individuals to mention, let alone talk about mental health.

This is a topic I truly believe does not get discussed as much as it should. Our mental health does matter because it affects every stage of our life.

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