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If Black Lives Mattered, We Would Address Mental Health in Black Communities

Former Miss USA, attorney and Extra correspondent, Cheslie Kryst attorney, has died at age 30. Police reported that she jumped from the Orion building located at 350 West 42nd Street in Manhattan and was pronounced dead at the scene. Her untimely death should remind us of the importance of having true discussions about anxiety, depression, and mental health within Black Culture. Chelsie Kryst was only 30 years old.

It seems that Depression is becoming is just as prevalent in Black communities as in White ones, but significant differences exist. Black people face different social trauma that may increase their risk of depression.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Leading Causes of Death in their report from 2018.

If you are not living in a bubble, you should have noticed that suicide rates have significantly increased among Black youth over the past 20 years. Unfortunately, our eyes remain closed to an emergence of a mental health crisis in Black communities.

According to the American Association of Suicidoligy:

  • In 2014, 2,421 African Americans died by suicide in the US. Of these, 1,946 were male (80.38%).The overall suicide rate per 100,000 was 5.46.i
  • In 2014, there were 475 African American female suicides in the US. The suicide rate of African American females was the lowest among men and women of all ethnicities.i
  • In 2015, researchers released data showing that there were more suicides among African American children ages 5 to 11 than among Caucasian children. This was the first national study to show observe higher suicide rates for African Americans than for Caucasians in any age group.
  • Firearms were the predominant method of suicide among African Americans regardless of sex or age, accounting for 47.42% of all suicides. Suffocation was the second most prevalent method (29.9%).i

We have had marches for about every other social issue but I have yet to see the same zeal from organizations like Black Lives Matter in addressing the prevalent issue of Black Mental Health. The fact of the Matter is, according to this report, more Black people are committing suicide each year than Black people being killed by police. So if Black Lives Mattered,, we would be just as outraged by the mental health in our community as we are of police brutality in our community.

Part of the problem is the unspoken racial bias in our Healthcare providers. In many cases, they fail to treat depression in Black people. Some reports suggest that medical doctors are less likely to recognize or take a wide range of health symptoms seriously when it involves Black people.

What is often overlooked and dismissed by white people is that Black people may develop different symptoms of depression less likely to seek or remain in treatment.

Black trauma is real! We are in 2022, and we are still talking about the first Black this and the first Black that. We are still facing trauma just to be recognized as human beings and lack the treatment from the medical community to acknowledge racial nuances when it comes to Black mental health.

Managing depression should be essential in the Black community just liek any other community, and finding racially sensitive treatment may be necessary to address how Black people deal mentally with racial trauma and discrimination.

If you ask a group of people who’ve suffered from clinical depression to define the illness, you’ll hear various answers. Depression is a very personal experience that millions of people worldwide experience.

Different people manifest different symptoms, but one thing is sure: depression is a complex illness that can destroy your life if left unresolved.

Many people with depression describe it as a sense of despair that engulfs everything they do and everything they feel.

If you think being depressed is akin to feeling sad because your favorite team just lost the championship game, you have no idea what suffering from a true depression is like. Depression is much deeper and more invasive than sadness or frustration.

Depression takes everything away from you; it saps your energy, focus, concentration, and especially your joy. You don’t care about anything; nothing matters, and even the people you love become unimportant.

If you’re depressed for an extended period, you become accustomed to the feeling, and any other emotion becomes unfamiliar and even frightening.

Physical Concerns of Depression

Depression doesn’t only take its toll on your emotions and mental state; it can cause serious physical problems as well. It also zaps your energy and motivation. Depression may cause you to either lose your appetite or eat incessantly.

When you’re depressed, you tend to become inactive. This alone can cause several problems, but when added to some of the other physical side effects of depression, it’s easy to see why depression is such a severe illness.

If you’ve ever mourned a profound loss or suffered from depression, you understand how overwhelming it can be. People of all ages, even children, can be depressed. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome your condition!

Here are the top five strategies to overcome your depression and regain your life:

Talk about it. If you find yourself unable to concentrate on anything, have lost your appetite, or are over-eating, try talking to a family member or trusted friend.

  • Because you’re depressed, you may not be able to get the help you need alone, so enlisting someone you trust is essential.
  • Don’t feel embarrassed to talk about it. Chances are, the people you confide in will know more about depression than you think.

Seek professional help. Many people avoid this for what they feel are good reasons: “My insurance won’t cover it,” or, “I can’t afford it.” In today’s society, this is simply untrue.

  • Many insurance companies offer compensation for depression treatment because it’s widely known as a severe medical condition. Plus, they aren’t allowed to release treatment information to your employer.
  • Even if you don’t have medical insurance, many mental health centers or hospitals offer treatment free or on a sliding scale based on your income to be affordable. Seek out help for your depression – it’s the best thing you can do!

Become involved. Some people who suffer from depression find that the more they help others, the more they help themselves.

  • For instance, a woman who was consumed with depression went to school and became a licensed therapist. Through her sessions with people, she used her own depression experience to heal others.
  • Volunteer at a local center for seniors or abused families. Many people in these centers tend to be depressed, and working with them can give you insight into making yourself feel better.

Exercise. Surprisingly, exercise can help you feel better. The energy your body gets from yoga, walking, jogging, swimming, and fitness center exercise will help you immensely.

  • The endorphins released during exercise can bring relief from your depression and give you the motivation to fight it.
  • Enlist a friend if you don’t want to exercise alone.

Using these tips can help you fight your depression, but the most important is seeking professional help. A good therapist can suggest more techniques to help overcome your depression. Take these suggestions and add your creative spin to best suit your needs.

No advice can replace a complete examination by your doctor. Depression comes in many forms, and determining a treatment plan for your individual needs is required.

If you’re concerned about medication and side effects, many homeopathic remedies are available today that you can discuss with your health professional. Please make a list of your concerns and share them during the exam. This way, you’ll be actively involved in choosing a treatment plan.

With a suitable treatment plan overseen by your doctor, some support to bolster your spirits, and true determination, you can overcome your depression!

Remember, racial stereotypes exist in our healthcare system, so Black people who wish to seek help for depression should see treatment from culturally competent clinicians.

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About Damon K. Jones (218 Articles)
Damon K. Jones is an Activist, Author, and Publisher of Black Westchester Magazine, a Black-owned and operated newspaper based in Westchester County, New York. Mr. Jones is a Holistic Health Practitioner, First Aid in Mental Health Practioner, Diet, and Nutrition Advisor, and Vegan, Vegetarian Nutrition Life Coach. Mr. Jones is a 31 year Law Enforcement Practioner, New York Representative of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America. Mr. Jones has been a guest commentator on New York radio stations WBLS (107.5 FM), WLIB (1190 am), WRKS (98.7 FM), WBAI (99.5 FM), and Westchester's WVOX (1460 am). Mr. Jones has appeared on local television broadcasts, including Westchester News 12 “News Makers” and Public Television “Winbrook Pride. You can now hear Damon every Wednesday at 830 AM on WFAS 1230 AM, Morning with Bob Marone Show.
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