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Black Men and Mental Health 2020

They say that numbers do not lie. So lets take a quick look at the facts.

7% of African American men will develop depression during their lifetime-this is likely to be an underestimate due to lack of screening and treatment services.

• African American men have death rates that are at least twice as high as those for women for suicide, cirrhosis of the liver, and homicide.

• From 1980 to 1995, the suicide rate for African American male youth (ages 15-19) increased by 146%. Among African American males aged 15-19 years, firearms were used in 72% of suicides, while strangulation was used in 20% of suicides.

• For African American men, especially in urban areas, the abuse of alcohol and its consequences appear more grave when compared to statistics for white men, white women or African American women.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaiming “of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane?”

So what does this all mean? It means that education, screening and access to quality mental health services are the issue. Given our countries current climate, what do we presume the solution is? I often hear the buzz words "health is wealth". There are false constructs of race and wealth.

On a daily basis, the black man has to deal with racism, inequality, and economic oppression while trying to care for himself and his family. Dealing with this harsh reality can lead to increased depression, frustration, low self esteem, and feelings of hopelessness.

How are our black men supposed to be good fathers, brothers and sons? They struggle to be feel "normal" daily. We are educated on the fact that they have many barriers. But in all honesty the strides to correct the generational affects on our black men are weak and just subpar. Billions of dollars need to be poured into community programs that educate and help alleviate these health care disparities. Black men need to see more men of color as clinicians. It is without a doubt there is under representation of African American male clinicians throughout the United States. I recall graduate school, there must have been only one African American male through my cohort.

Dr. Joy DeGury in Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome explores replacing behaviors which are   today maladaptive with ones that will promote, and sustain the healing and ensure the advancement of African American culture.

Covid 2020 has me very concerned. Men are walking around afraid and not saying anything. There is expected to be a spike in substance abuse. Data released already shows that there has been an increase in domestic violence cases. African American men do not access mental health care at the rates required to sustain health communities. On a Community level we need to implore more advertising and normalizing of treatment. No you aren't crazy for getting a therapist. Culturally, it has been viewed as not manly, or weak to seek treatment. These myths need to be debunked.

This entry was written by Tamara A. Dopwell, LMSW (Covid 2020)


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