Overall, mental health conditions occur in Black and African American (B/AA) people in America at about the same or less frequency than in White Americans. However, the historical Black and African American experience in America has and continues to be characterized by trauma and violence more often than for their White counterparts and impacts emotional and mental health of both youth and adults. (See prevalence statistics below).
Historical dehumanization, oppression, and violence against Black and African American people has evolved into present day racism - structural, institutional, and individual – and cultivates a uniquely mistrustful and less affluent community experience, characterized by a myriad of disparities including inadequate access to and delivery of care in the health system. Processing and dealing with layers of individual trauma on top of new mass traumas from COVID-19 (uncertainty, isolation, grief from financial or human losses), police brutality and its fetishization in news media, and divisive political rhetoric adds compounding layers of complexity for individuals to responsibly manage.
Help-seeking behavior is affected by mistrust of the medical system and often begins with faith-based outreach. However, MHA screening data shows that Black and African American people who screen positive for depression self-identify as planning to seek help at higher rates than the general population says they will seek help. Unfortunately, Black and African American providers, who are known to give more appropriate and effective care to Black and African American help-seekers, make up a very small portion of the behavioral health provider workforce (see treatment statistics below). Because of these factors and more, Black and African American people are more likely to experience chronic and persistent, rather than episodic, mental health conditions. -Retrieved from Mental Health America
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