Suffering In Silence: Top 3 Reasons Why African Americans Fail To Seek Mental Health Care
By: Risa Smith
Many mental health issues get swept under the rug in the Black community because our people fail to seek help. Dealing with mental issues is often seen as a weakness or laziness and the advice of the elders would be to "toughen up and keep it moving", or "pray about it". Here are the top three reasons why African Americans fail to seek mental health care.
Not Enough Doctors That Look Like Us
Throughout medical school, the Blacks were always outnumbered by a landslide. No matter how qualified, we had to work harder than most to even be respected in the field. Damon Tweedy, M.D. shared his experience of starting as a Duke Medical student only to be mistaken as a custodian. It is hard enough to live in fear of having a social stigma regarding a mental illness, only to walk into the doctor's office to find someone who does not understand or can’t relate to you. The gap can be bridged as physicians gain more cultural competency.
Faith And Spirituality
While God certainly has the power to heal, having an awareness of what you are struggling with allows for much quicker healing than denial. It is imperative to both rely on your spirituality and faith as well as medical and therapeutic treatment depending on the severity of the condition.
Lack Of Access To Quality Care Or Uninsured
About 27% of African Americans live below the poverty level compared to about 10.8% of non Hispanic whites (American Psychiatric Association). Some are not able to afford the cost of healthcare or afford the medications prescribed to them. I'm sure you have that one cousin that will never go to the doctor because they just don't want to pay that co-pay!
Whatever the reason is that you have not taken that step to get mental health care, please do not suffer in silence!
*Risa Smith is a physician assistant and blogger for www.realtalkidentity.com! Click the link to check out more of her content!