May is celebrated as National Mental Health Awareness month. Many organizations and groups across the USA have joined forces with the power of social media to bring awareness associated with Mental Health Illnesses.
My Facebook group is one of the many groups online that aims to educate and bring awareness about mental illness. Join my new Facebook group BEER UR MENTAL HEALTH. It’s a fun group where everyone is welcome to share and shed light on the misconceptions associated with mental health issues.
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Stigmatization Of Mental Health.
Mental Health sees no color, race, or economic status. However, mental health is still very stigmatized and taboo, especially among the African American community. Moreover, the topic is such a sensitive issue and is most often associated with crazy or homeless people. The thought of going to see a Therapist or Counselor is avoided because of the many associated stigmas.
Mental health concerns are no different from medical concerns and should not be treated differently. Moreover, mental illness can negatively influence our physical health. The mental, physical and social well-being are all intertwined. If one part of the triage is not well, then it affects the other parts.
The Mental Health Struggle
One week prior to the beginning of the Corona Virus Pandemic in March 2020, a close family member died from Breast Cancer. 6 months prior, I lost 2 other family members. Grieving, if not done properly, can lead to serious mental health conditions.
During the peak of the pandemic, I had to travel to work via train. I experienced very high levels of stress and anxiety as I traveled to and from work on the New York City Subways.
Fear Of The Unknown
The trains were filled with homeless sleeping and the passengers on the train were observed not wearing a mask. Fear of contracting the Corona Virus started looming its ugly head and overtime started affecting my Mental Health.
Between grieving the death of my 3 family members and dealing with feelings of fear and anxiety from the pandemic, I felt like a zombie walking through the streets of NYC.
My mind was clouded, tired and I felt mentally drained. I knew something was wrong, but could not come to terms with the fact that I was dealing with mental health issues.
After speaking with several close friends about what I was experiencing, their only advice was “just pray. God will see you through.” I do believe that prayer changes things, but sometimes seeking help from a mental health professional is very important.
Dealing with Trauma
Trauma in the black community is most often not seen as a mental health issue. Trauma has become so normalized and is swept under the rug as a coping mechanism.
Moreover, people put on a facade to mask their mental illness and show that everything is alright. We place so much emphasis on taking care of our physical and social life but many times neglect their mental health.
Definition of Health
The World Health Organization defines health as:
“a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of a disease or infirmity.”
In the African American community, lack of knowledge seems to be one of the biggest factors that prevent us from becoming empowered to take the necessary steps for change.
As a result, people cannot associate what they are experiencing with a mental health illness because mental health is rarely discussed in our communities or families.
If someone frequently expresses an emotion or feels anxious, they are labeled as soft. Moreover, we blame these feelings on everything or everyone except identifying them as just a Mental Health issue. Consequently, we do not get the professional help that we need.
The The National Alliance on Mental Illness showcases an in-depth list of signs and symptoms of Mental Illness.
Warning Signs Of Mental Health Illness
feel sad, anxious, or worry a lot?
struggle with concentrating?
sleep or eat too much?
avoid friends or social events?
get agitated or feel worthless?
have trouble sleeping?
If you Answered yes to 1 or more of these questions, these feelings may not be as normal as you think. Take the first step and get the help that you need.
Where To Get Help For Mental Health.
Healing starts by first identifying that you have a Mental Health Issue. The second step is to seek the help of a Therapist or other Health Care Professionals.
These Hotlines are very confidential and therefore puts your mind at ease.
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