Being of the black community, you are probably well aware of our infamous taboos not ever up for discussion. These taboos include but are not limited to: mental illness, homosexuality, food/diet, church etc. However, what I have found, as a young adult, Black American by birth, West Indian by descent, heterosexual, average height and weight, of Christian faith, etc., is that it is DANGEROUS, to not feel free to question, and just as much to doubt.
If anything, I would say that I only know all that I am, stand for, enjoy, and believe in, because of what I have been able to doubt and question, and have been educated on! The key to that statement, was the “and have been educated on” part, it is crucial to the prior part of the statement because it would not have resulted without the, “I have been able to doubt and question” part.
I am extremely passionate, as a Psychology major, Comparative Women’s Studies minor, self-identifying Womanist, and as a Spelmanite, about the lack of a bettered livelihood due to poor acknowledgement of the mental health status of black people in America and around the world. At my own HBCU, though we might have a unique space to discuss and to act on many things we might not be able to in the greater society, mental health is still less popular.
It’s never really as relevant, it’s never really much of our problem as much as the next. Unfortunately, this mentality, no pun intended, continues to destruct us!
As black youth, especially in a time where we find ourselves demanding that our lives matter, we must include ALL our black lives even amongst each other in our day to day campaigns, missions, service acts, classrooms, meetings, social events. We must not only say, and hash tag, but live and act as if ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER. Especially knowing the lack of medical attention that we’ve historically not received since slavery all while fighting daily against current travesties of continuous police brutality, mass incarceration, poverty, inadequate education, resources, and access to the same quality of life as the dominant culture.
We must consider mental health with the utmost severity ALWAYS. On a day to day, I recommend the creative outlets, which for me is writing, and on an extra special day getting back to my dancing or working out, but whatever it takes to express yourself, SISTERS DO IT. Find what you love to do, what makes you feel good, what you look forward to, and make that a constant regiment and normality versus engaging in negative self-thought.
However, it would be unlike the future clinician in me, if I did not stress the need for PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE/COUNSELING when necessary. If you are, or know anybody whose mental health status is questionable and doubt worthy of true wellness, please please please SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP.
Particularly on HBCU campuses most students may frequent the clinical services office, however I am almost 10000% sure that contact information and referrals can be made to the mental health services available in your local community there. Please take advantage of all the resources, and share all of them with your sisters.
The change begins with us; we can no longer live impacted by the historical traumas inflicted purposely on us. We must liberate. We must learn to love to be free. We must learn to be mentally free. That, is what it means to be free!
Here are some websites for more information and support opportunities if you or someone you know is suffering from mental illness. Also give them a go if you simply want to be more informed!