As we honor black history during February, we also take this opportunity to raise awareness of mental health in the black community. Communities of color have historically faced unique difficulties in accessing mental and behavioral health care, which is further compounded by stigma.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health details how African Americans are impacted by mental and behavioral health challenges:
- Poverty level affects mental health status. African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are twice as likely to report psychological distress.
- In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans, ages 15 to 24.
- The death rate from suicide for African American men was more than four times greater than for African American women in 2017.
- However, the overall suicide rate for African Americans is 60 percent lower than that of the non-Hispanic white population.
- African American females, grades 9-12, were 70 percent more likely to attempt suicide in 2017, as compared to non-Hispanic white females of the same age.
- A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 – 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233 percent, as compared to 120 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
To further the discussion about African American mental and behavioral health, here are a few useful resources
- NAMI’s African American Mental Health page shares stories, statistics, and resources
- Each Mind Matters provides this page focused on the African American community
- Mental Health America highlights this guide to Black & African American Communities and Mental Health
- Mental Health America also showcases African American pioneers in mental health
We hope the discussion of mental health in the African American community, and across all communities, continues. Together, we can increase awareness of mental health wellness, and support and empower vulnerable members of our communities.