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News about Racial Violence Harms Black People’s Mental Health
For months, Desmond Ellington assiduously refused to watch the videotaped killing of George Floyd. When former Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin went on trial for his murder, Ellington did not turn on the television until he saw a headline on his smartphone that the verdict would be announced within the hour. It was not that he did not care about what was happening; it was that he cared too much.
For the 37-year-old Black singer and actor, the news accounts and social media videos of racial violence and the killings of unarmed Black people that too often go unpunished were not just demoralizing, they were traumatizing. “It gets to the point where you decide, ‘I have to turn off the television because I have my sanity to take care of,’” says Ellington, an Arkansas native who lives in New York. “It’s like a sadness, a hopelessness. Those images just keep coming like weeds. You pick one weed, and two more sprout up. So you gonna set the whole yard on fire to kill the weeds? It wears on your psyche.”
A growing body of research has documented the detrimental effects of both interpersonal and structural racism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that centuries of racism have had a profound and negative impact on the mental and physical health of people of color. Investigators at Columbia University found that experiencing racism can result in traumatic stress linked to negative mental health outcomes, such as depression, anger and low self-esteem. The American Public Health Association calls racism a social determinant of health akin to housing, education, and employment and a barrier to health equity.
A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA adds a new layer to an understanding of the pervasive health effects of racism. Lead author David Curtis of the University of Utah and his colleagues showed that widely publicized anti-Black violence negatively affects the mental health of many Black Americans even if they do not directly experience it.
The study’s authors conducted the first nationwide scientific assessment of these media reports using 49 high-profile incidents that occurred between 2013 and 2017. They included media reports of 38 police killings of Black individuals, as well as coverage of about nine legal decisions not to indict or convict officers involved in some of those killings.
Using weekly data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, the researchers assessed the mental health impacts on people during this period. Black respondents reported more poor mental health days during the time when two or more of these events happened in the country. Legal decisions not to prosecute or convict the officers involved in the killings were most clearly associated with poor mental health days, Curtis says. This reflects Black people’s concern and dismay about what they see as the systemic injustice that follows a much publicized incident and the failure to hold anyone accountable more than their reaction to the initial wrong perpetrated by any single individual.
Those emotions also resonate with personal experiences in which racism is ever present. As a senior operations engineer who is starting a job at Amazon later this month, 26-year-old Adam Williams works in a field in which Black people are dramatically underrepresented. That mirrors his life on a college campus just a few years ago. When he graduated from Purdue University in 2017, just 1.6 percent of the students in the College of Engineering were Black, a statistic that figured into the way he was perceived.
Initially, none of Williams’s classmates wanted to be his lab partner, and they seemed shocked when he answered questions correctly in class. “I saw Nazi propaganda scattered across campus detailing how I was genetically inferior,” he says of literature disparaging Black people. “I was hastily labeled a delinquent, followed through stores, questioned by police under bogus pretenses and frequently assumed that the only way I could be at Purdue was as an athlete.”
For his part, Ellington considers himself lucky to have encountered little overt and direct racism. Yet despite achieving a measure of professional success and traveling the country as a member of the cast of Hamilton, he cannot shake the feeling that he is just one wrong move away from becoming another statistic.
“I’m still very aware that it could happen to me,” he says. “I have to know how to conduct myself when I’m out. I’m always thinking, ‘Am I walking or standing too close to this person?’ It’s a burden that I have to be in that box so I can get back home to my family. It’s so emotionally and physically draining. You don’t even realize how much until you see another Black man get shot. I think it’s in those moments you realize how much of a burden it is to be Black in America.”
Psychologist Vanessa Volpe runs the Black Health Lab at North Carolina State University, where she studies the impact of direct and vicarious racism on physical health. She compares the kind of hypervigilance Ellington talks about—trying to navigate the thicket of structural, systemic and interpersonal racism—to driving a car with the parking brake on.
“Because exposure to racism is chronic, frequent and can happen at any time, you have to be vigilant to protect yourself,” Volpe says. “Over time, your body is going to experience this wear and tear that will result in much greater rates of morbidity and earlier mortality for Black folks, compared to white people. A lot of times we think, ‘Just get a better car or replace the parking brake,’ but that’s a Band-Aid. What can we do so that Black people don’t even have that exposure in the first place?”
The Education of Black People
Undoubtedly the most influential black intellectual of the twentieth century and one of America's finest historians, W.E.B. DuBois knew that the liberation of the African American people required liberal education and not vocational training. He saw education as a process of teaching certain timeless values: moderation, an avoidance of luxury, a concern for courtesy, a capacity to endure, a nurturing love for beauty. At the same time, DuBois saw education as fundamentally subversive. This was as much a function of the well-established role of educationfrom Plato forwardas the realities of the social order under which he lived. He insistently calls for great energy and initiative; for African Americans controlling their own lives and for continued experimentation and innovation, while keeping education's fundamentally radical nature in view.
Though containing speeches written nearly one-hundred years ago, and on a www black people com that has seen more stormy debate and demagoguery than almost any other in recent history, The Education of Black People approaches education with a timelessness and timeliness, at once rooted in classical thought that reflects a remarkably fresh and contemporary relevance.
The Virus Is Showing Black People What They Knew All Along
COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate by race, yet it has still laid bare the brutality of racism in the United States.
By Patrice Peck
All skinfolk ain’t kinfolk, but as Black people in America, we still feel a connection with one another. A reciprocated smile as we pass one another on the street; a spontaneous, but still synchronized, “Swag Surfin’” dip at the club; a “Cupid Shuffle” kick at the cookout. Small moments like these reinforce the bond I feel with other Black people. But these days, as I quarantine at home, the Black faces sparking that sense of familiarity are not nodding in solidarity or swaying in unison. They stare back, frozen in photographs accompanying obituaries that announce yet another Black life lost to the coronavirus. I do not know these people. I am not even one of the 31 percent of Black people in America who personally knows someone who has died of COVID-19. But in these faces I see my loved ones. I see myself.
I thought of these obituaries last week, when the United States passed yet another grim pandemic milestone. More than 50,000 Black Americans are now dead from COVID-19, according to data from the COVID Racial Data Tracker, a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. (And even that number is likely an undercount: We don’t know the race or ethnicity of roughly 20,000 of the 319,000 Americans whose lives have been claimed by COVID-19.) Everyone in the U.S. is at the mercy of the coronavirus; it doesn’t discriminate by race or class or gender or age. And yet, from the very beginning of the pandemic, the virus has exposed and targeted all of the disparities that come along with being Black in America. We are dying at 1.7 times the rate of white people from this virus, which means that the toll of these disparities has never been easier to quantify: 19,000 Black people would still be alive if not for systemic racism.
Ibram X Kendi: Stop blaming Black people for dying of the coronavirus
For centuries, Black people have spoken about the struggles we face, pointing to root causes like poverty, housing segregation, unemployment, and environmental degradation. And for centuries, those concerns have largely gone ignored. The same thing has happened with the pandemic. Long before any data confirmed our worst fears, Black people knew that the coronavirus would disproportionately devastate our already vulnerable communities. Driven by that foresight, I launched a newsletter, Coronavirus News for Black Folks, in early April. As the death toll crept up and up, the brutality of American racism became even clearer. Black people with clear symptoms of COVID-19 were turned away from receiving tests, sometimes on multiple occasions, only to die at home. Black families were entirely destroyed as members died within weeks and days of one another. By the end of July, twice as many Black children as white children had died of COVID-19: In Michigan, the first child to die from the virus was a 5-year-old Black girl who spent two weeks on a ventilator.
While a large swath of Americans, myself included, are able to safely stay at home, Black people are disproportionately essential workers, who have no choice but to brave the pandemic and head to work. Many have lost their lives working jobs they felt were unsafe and underpaid. “Our white executive director has not been in the office for the past six weeks, has not asked how any of us are holding up, and has not emailed us to say thank you,” a 20-something security guard told me in April. “I feel betrayed. I used to love my position and the people I work with. Now I’m resentful of the protection some people are afforded while others, like myself, are sent out to the northwest municipal federal credit union lines.” (The security guard was granted anonymity for fear of professional reprisal.)
As if the havoc wreaked by the virus weren’t already bad enough, the racial disparities will persist as the U.S. www black people com its way out of the pandemic. Just as one in three Black people knows someone directly who has died from COVID-19, one in three Black people has said they will not get the vaccine, according to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study. Clinical trials have shown that the vaccine is safe and effective, but a long-standing mistrust in America’s predominantly white medical institutions is only deepening, and so the number of Black lives lost to this virus will continue to rise, even though we now have a way to end it.
Thankfully, moments of Black kinship still emerge even during all the suffering. The same week that marked more than 50,000 Black deaths saw a horizon of hope. Sandra Lindsay, a Jamaican-born nurse in Queens, New York, became the first person to be vaccinated in the United States, after receiving the shot from Michelle Chester, also a Black woman. Even a pandemic can’t break the resilient bond of Black America.
COVID-19’s assault on Black and Brown communities
African-American and Latinx populations are being devastated by the coronavirus, in Philadelphia, statewide, and across the country. Members of the Black and Latinx communities make up a disproportionate amount of COVID-19 cases, and have more severe outcomes when they are hospitalized.
According to data from the City of Philadelphia, as of May 13, African Americans accounted for at least 46.9% of Philadelphia’s almost 19,000 coronavirus cases.
Latinx people have comprised 71.6% of all coronavirus cases in York, Pennsylvania, where they are only 33.3% of the population.
In New York City, which has more than 185,000 COVID-19 cases, the Latinx (30.7%) and African-American (30.2%) communities make up more than 60% of all coronavirus deaths.
Each of the first 12 people to die from COVID-19 in St. Louis were Black, and African Americans currently represent 1,032 of the city’s 1,535 coronavirus cases.
On May 13, Chicago had 33,120 COVID-19 cases. Latinx (42.1%) and Black (33.3%) people constituted more than 75% of all coronavirus diagnoses.
It’s difficult for people to acknowledge the extensive toll of racism and not everybody wants to talk about it. Bridgette M. Brawner, an associate professor of nursing in the School of Nursing
There is nothing wrong with Black and Brown bodies—no flaw or genetic or biological defect—to cause these dreadfully high numbers. Nor is the disparity natural or inevitable.
Structural racism and inequality are at fault, and the unjust health and socioeconomic conditions they have wrought.
The coming COVID storm
Bridgette M. Brawner could see the tempest stirring.
An associate professor of nursing in the School of Nursing, her research focuses on the health inequities of historically underserved communities.
Every time there is a major public health concern, she says the same scenario plays itself out: The most vulnerable and under-resourced are the most severely affected.
With the coronavirus, it has been no different.
Due to decades of structural racism, such as redlining and discriminatory housing practices, Brawner says African-American and Latinx populations have been relegated to underserved, unhealthy areas, where they are regularly exposed to environmental toxins and have limited access to quality health care and nutritious food.
Certain Brown and Black people are also less likely to hold jobs that permit them to work from home—“To stay at home and shelter in place is a privilege,” Brawner says—and make up a large percentage of essential workers, such as grocery clerks, transit workers, and hospital staff, among others, putting them at greater risk of exposure.
These societal inequities and environmental influences make some members of the African-American and Latinx communities more susceptible to COVID-19, so she knew they would be hit hardest www black people com the pandemic.
“What’s happening right now with coronavirus is not surprising,” Brawner says. “But what it is doing is shining a light on the fact that if we don’t start addressing those underling social and structural determinants of health—no matter the new virus, or the new disease, or whatever the new thing is that comes our way—we’re going to land in the same place, and that place is Black and Brown people disproportionately being affected and dying.”
Brawner says reports of COVID-19’s attack on African-American and Latinx communities have largely focused on their behaviors, lifestyle choices, and underlying conditions, with nary a word about racism and discrimination, which she says are the root causes of the inequity. This includes what happens when they present for care and are denied testing, misdiagnosed, and/or do not receive adequate treatment due to implicit bias, and other structural issues in the health care system.
“It’s difficult for people to acknowledge the extensive toll of racism and not everybody wants to talk about it,” she says. “But if we just tell the story of where we are without how we got here, then we will just continue to perpetuate the issues and keep coming back to the same place.”
Inequalities produced by policy
Courtney E. Boen, an assistant professor and Axilrod Faculty Fellow in the Department of Sociology in the School of Arts & Sciences, studies how broader systems of inequality, such as racism, factor into producing disparities in population health.
Boen, who is also a research associate at the Population Studies Center, says many pundits and medical experts have talked about the high rates of the coronavirus among African Americans and Latinx people as if they are natural and inevitable disparities determined by race. In reality, she says the infection and death rates stem directly from social and economic conditions that put people at risk of infection and shape their likelihood of survival, www black people com as where they work and where they live.
“We know, for example, that because of the racial patterning of work in the U.S., Black and Latino workers are disproportionately being forced to work or risk losing their job in the pandemic,” she says. “We know also that folks who are able to practice social distancing are less likely to be infected. Well, your ability to safely social distance directly reflects where you live and in what types of housing you live. If you live in a densely populated urban area with substandard housing, or you live with multiple family members or in a multigenerational household, this can increase your risk. You may have caregiving responsibilities that require you to look out for other people outside your household, so you’re going to be less likely to be able to social distance.”
One of the factors that medical professionals have singled out to explain some of the high deaths rates from COVID-19 among African Americans is the fact san jose air quality today they have higher risk of chronic disease. Boen says this is not a natural occurrence, but relates to how racism as a social inequality and structure patterns social conditions in the United States in ways that increase the risk of chronic disease.
“I think it’s really important to note that the disparities that we’re seeing in infection and death rates directly stem from social and economic conditions, and that these social and economic conditions and the inequalities were produced by policy decisions,” she says.
Less care, poor care, and late care
Karen Glanz, the George A. Weiss University Professor with appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, says COVID-19 isn’t the first or only disparity that the medical community has observed, but it is unique in that it is unfolding right before our eyes and changing the world as we see it.
“We’re collecting information as close to real time as can be, whereas for a lot of these other issues, they might be observed but it’s years before they’re reported,” says Glanz, who is also director of the UPenn Prevention Research Center. “So I think that is raising the profile of the disparities.”
In an April 14 op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer, as racial data from the coronavirus began to emerge, Www black people com and co-author Carmen E. Guerra, the Ruth C. and Raymond G. Perelman Associate Professor of Medicine at Penn Medicine, called attention to the disproportionately large number of African Americans dying from the virus, and advocated for “the social and health disparities that affect black www black people com in nonpandemic times” to be addressed with even more urgency.
When I talk about we are at risk because we’re Black, it’s not race that puts us at risk, it’s racism. Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins, a lecturer in health policy at the School of Nursing and the School of Social Policy & Practice
Facts and figures from COVID-19 have shown that African Americans and Latinx people are more likely to contract the coronavirus, and have poorer health outcomes and higher death rates as well. Glanz says she believes the higher death rates result from members of the Black and Latinx communities receiving less care, poor care, and late care.
“I think much of that has to do with access to health care, getting tested, diagnosed, and into treatment early,” she says, “getting treated with the best care. They may not have a primary care physician, or may not be able to get to a hospital.”
Several of the medical conditions that lead to higher health and coronavirus risks among African Americans, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, can be mitigated through screening and precautionary care, but Glanz says many Black people face obstacles to preventive services.
Black deaths in real time
For Kevin Ahmaad Jenkins, a lecturer in health policy at the School of Nursing and the School of Social Policy & Practice, watching African Americans die from the coronavirus has been like watching videos online of unarmed Black people being shot and killed by the police.
“We’re literally watching ourselves die in real time,” he says. “We watch these police videos where people were shot and they did nothing wrong, yet there’s no indictment. And now here we are again, watching folks in our community, left and right, not just going to the hospital, but dying, and there’s no indictment. There’s no indictment of our government, there’s no indictment of our leaders.”
Jenkins, who is also a core investigator at the Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, says he and his research team recently finished dissecting the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the U.S. government’s response to COVID-19, with a fine-tooth comb. They outlined the legislature history of the coronavirus and determined that the first bill was passed by Congress on Jan. 24. Public officials, he says, should have known about the coming harm to Black and Brown communities.
When guidelines were released with warnings to the general public, Jenkins says there was much discussion about the dangers the virus posed to the elderly and people with vascular-based diseases and respiratory ailments, but little talk about the threat to the African-American and Latinx communities, who shoulder a larger burden of the risk factors.
Incensed, Jenkins has been speaking out about the destruction the virus is bringing to Black and Latinx communities in various television, radio, and online media outlets.
On March 28, as Black deaths continued to mount, Jenkins wrote on his Twitter page, “Black folks are not at risk because we’re Black. Black folks are at risk due to the underlying comorbidities and social circumstances that shape that Black experience.”
“When I talk about we are at risk because we’re Black, it’s not race that puts us at risk,” he says, “it’s racism.”
Solutions to save lives
Brawner says the first step in solving the disparity is to acknowledge that racism and discrimination exist and are the driving forces behind the health inequities.
She says she is most concerned about what will happen to African-American and Latinx communities when the coronavirus no longer dominates the news.
“When our communities are still being pummeled in the aftermath of this and we know that people are sometimes in positions where they can’t stay home and things are reopened, where are we going to be?” she says. “How many more lives will be lost unnecessarily when COVID-19 shifts from a national concern to something ‘those people over there’ have to fend for themselves to fight?”
In terms of primary prevention, Boen says actions like increasing community access to personal protective equipment, locating testing sites in hard hit areas, enacting living wage laws, and extending paid sick leave can make a huge difference.
“We know that [paid sick leave] is highly unequally patterned by race and ethnicity in the United States, and that’s crucial for preventing the spread of infection,” she says.
In the short term, Glanz says it is essential that government assistance be directed toward the vulnerable and minority communities. Long term, she says there needs to be more aggressive action taken by those in power to find solutions and ensure that resources are distributed equitably in society, and that the community is involved and helping each other as much as they can.
Jenkins says African Americans need a grassroots effort to help one another, as they did during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, as well as continued discussions to hold leadership accountable and a secure, accurate, up-to-date information channel to stem the flow of misinformation.
“When it comes down to psychosocial supports and the socioeconomic support, we’re really going to have to look within to be able to help each other and leverage through this process,” he says.
Homepage image: Members of the Black and Latinx communities make up a disproportionate amount of COVID-19 cases, and have more severe outcomes when they are hospitalized.
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. Yet, hope for recovery should remain, as light is shed on these issues - and the general public holds accountable policymakers and health systems to evolve better systems which eliminate inequities in mental health services.
- 13.4 percent of the U.S. population, or nearly 46 million people, identify themselves as Black or African American and another 2.7 percent identified as multiracial. 
- According to the most recent Census data available, 55 percent of all Black and African American people lived in the South, 18 percent lived in the Midwest, 17 percent in the Www black people com, and 10 percent in the West. 
- The Black immigrant population in the U.S. increased from 816,000 in 1980 to over 4.2 million by 2016. Thirty-nine percent were from Africa and nearly half were from the Caribbean. 
- Overall, 24 percent of Black and African American people have a bachelor’s degree or higher as of 2017. 
- More than 1 in 5 Black and African American people in the U.S. lived in poverty as of 2018. 
- Women are the heads of household in roughly 30 percent of Black and African American homes, compared to 9 percent of white homes. 
- Historical adversity, which includes slavery, sharecropping, and race-based exclusion from health, educational, social, and economic resources, translates into socioeconomic disparities experienced by Black and African American people today. Socioeconomic status, in turn, is linked to mental health: people who are impoverished, homeless, incarcerated, or have substance use problems are at higher risk for poor mental health.
- Despite progress made over the years, racism continues to have an impact on the mental health of Black and African American people. Negative stereotypes and attitudes of rejection have decreased, but continue to occur with measurable, adverse consequences. Historical and contemporary instances of negative treatment have led to a mistrust of authorities, many of whom are not seen as having the best interests of Black and African Americans in mind.
- Black and African American people living below poverty are www black people com as likely to report serious psychological distress than those living over 2x the poverty level. 
- Adult Blacks and African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than adult whites. 
- Blacks and African Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide at all ages.  However, Black and African American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than White teenagers (9.8 percent v. 6.1 percent). 
According to SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health :
- Sixteen percent (4.8 million) of Black and African American people reported having a mental illness, and 22.4 percent of those (1.1 million people) reported a serious mental illness over the past year.
- Serious mental illness (SMI) rose among all ages of Black and African American people between 2008 and 2018.
- Despite rates being less than the overall U.S. population, major depressive episodes increased from 9 percent-10.3 percent in Black and African American youth ages 12-17, 6.1 percent to 9.4 percent in young adults 18-25, and 5.7 percent to 6.3 percent in the 26-49 age range www black people com 2015 and 2018.
- Suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts are also rising among Black and African American young adults. While still lower than the overall U.S. population aged 18-25, 9.5 percent (439,000) of Black and African American 18-25-year-olds had serious thoughts of suicide in 2018, compared to 6 percent (277,000) in 2008. 3.6 percent (166,000) made a plan in 2018, compared to 2.1 percent (96,000) in 2008, and 2.4 percent (111,000) made an attempt in 2018, compared to 1.5 percent (70,000) in 2008.
- Binge drinking, smoking (cigarettes and marijuana), illicit drug use and prescription pain reliever misuse are more frequent among Black and African American adults with mental illnesses.
According to a study conducted by Ward, Wiltshire, Detry, and Brown in 2013 :
- Black and African American hold beliefs related to stigma, psychological openness, and help-seeking, which in turn affects their coping behaviors. The participants in this study were not very open to acknowledging psychological problems, but they were somewhat open to seek mental health services.
- Thirty percent of participants reported having a mental illness or receiving treatment for a mental illness
- Black and African American men are particularly concerned about stigma.
- Cohort effects, exposure to mental illness, and increased knowledge of mental illness are factors that could potentially change beliefs about symptoms of www black people com illness.
- Participants appeared apprehensive about seeking professional help for mental health issues, which is consistent with previous research. However, participants were willing to seek out some form of help.
- Black and African American people are more often diagnosed with schizophrenia and less often diagnosed with mood disorders compared to white people with the same symptoms. Additionally, they are offered medication or therapy at the lower rates than the general population. 
- Black and African American people are over-represented in our jails and prisons. Black and African American people make up 13 percent of the general U.S. population, but nearly 40 percent of the prison population.  In 2016, the imprisonment rate for Black and African American men (2,417 per 100,000 Black male residents) was more than 6 times greater than that for white men (401 per 100,000 white male residents) and the imprisonment rate for Black and African American women (97 per 100,000 Black and African American female residents) was almost double that for white women (49 per 100,000 white female residents).  Black and African American people with mental health conditions, specifically those involving psychosis, are more likely to be in jail or prison than people of other races. 
- Because less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are Black or African American, some may worry that mental health care practitioners are not culturally competent enough to treat their specific issues. 
- Stigma and judgment prevent Black and African American people from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. Research indicates that Blacks and African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Furthermore, many believe that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate even among family. 
Disparities in access to care and treatment for Black and African American people have also persisted over time.
- While the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has helped to close the gap in uninsured individuals, 11.5 percent of Black and African Americans, versus 7.5 percent of white Americans were still uninsured in 2018. 
- In 2018, 58.2 percent of Black and African American young adults 18-25 and 50.1 percent of adults 26-49 with serious mental illness did NOT receive treatment. 
- Nearly 90 percent of Black and African American people over the age www black people com 12 with a substance use disorder did NOT receive treatment. 
- In 2016, 12.3 percent of Black and African American adults who had a doctor’s office or clinic visit over the past year had difficulty getting needed care, tests or treatment compared to 6.8 percent of white adults. 
Bipolar Disorder and African Americans
Clinical Depression and African Americans
Mental Health Resources for Black and African American Communities
- Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM): BEAM is a training, movement building and grant making organization dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black communities. BEAM envisions a world where there are no barriers to Black Healing.
- Toolkits & Education: graphics on accountability, self-control, and emotional awareness; journal prompts; articles on Black mental health
- Videos: trainings and webinars, recorded and available for free
- The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation: changing the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging people to get the help they need; focuses on stigma/self-stigma reduction and building trust www black people com Black people and the mental health field.
- Resource Guide: directory of mental health providers and programs that serve the Black community; includes therapists, support groups, etc, but also digital content, faith-based programs, educational programs, etc
- Therapy for Black Girls: online space encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls; referral tool to find a therapist in your area
- Therapist Directory: find trusted therapists that can help you navigate being a strong, Black woman; can search for in-office therapist by your location or virtual therapist.
- The Loveland Foundation: financial assistance to Black women & girls seeking therapy
- Therapy for Black Men: primarily a therapist directory for Black men seeking therapy; includes some resources and stories.
- Dr. Ebony’s My Therapy Cards: self-exploration card deck created by a Black female psychologist for other women of color; created with the intention of helping other women of color grow and elevate in the areas of emotional and mental health.
- Innopsych: InnoPsych’s mission is to bring healing to communities of color by changing the face and feel of therapy. They strive to make therapists of color more visible in the community by creating a path to wellness-themed business ownership; to make it faster (and easier) for people of color to match with a therapist of color; and to create a major shift in how communities of color (or POCs) view therapy.
- Safe Black Space: Safe Black Space is the umbrella under which various services are offered to address people of African ancestry’s individual and community reactions to cultural and racial trauma.
Partnerships and Resources
The following organizations are among those that offer additional information on this subject, focusing on outreach to Black and African American communities:
Capstone Institute/Center for Research on the Education of Students Placed at Risk, Howard University
Black and African American LGBTQ Youth Report
National Black Nurses Association
National Medical Association
Lee Thompson Young Foundation
 United States Census Bureau. (2019). Quick facts. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST120219
 Pew Research Center. (2018). Five facts about blacks in the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/02/22/5-facts-about-blacks-in-the-u-s/
 United States Census Bureau. (2019). Income and Poverty in the United States: 2018. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2019/demo/p60-266.pdf
 American Psychiatric Association. (2017). Mental Health Disparities: African Americans. Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/File percent20Library/Psychiatrists/Cultural-Competency/Mental-Health-Disparities/Mental-Health-Facts-for-African-Americans.pdf
 CDC. (2018). Health United States, 2017. Table 46. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus17.pdf
 CDC. (2019). Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2017. Table A-7. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm
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