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Black Mental Health Disparities and Self-Care

Taking care of your mental health is self-care. And self-care is not selfish. Everyone knows that taking time to care for your physical health is critical. But taking time to care for your mental health is just as important. Black people are 13% of the US population, and 16% of us have reported having mental illnesses in the past year. That is seven million people. Out of that number, only 1 in 3 African Americans who need mental health services receives them. A strong stigma still exists within our culture that prevents many of the African diaspora from even admitting something is wrong. Especially with older generations who always told us “What happens in this house stays in this house.” This rhetoric ends up causing feelings of resentment, regret, and stress which cause deadly illnesses that are more prevalent in African Americans.

Our bodies adapt to these stressors, leading to significant health risks. The leading causes of death in the Black community are heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Black men have a 70% higher rate of heart disease than white men. Black women have a 50% higher rate of heart disease than white women. People with these illnesses and mental health challenges die on average 10-20 years earlier than the general population.

In our culture, we are conditioned to feel guilty if we tell someone no. It is easy to become trapped in the cycle of continuous giving, but being everything to everyone can destroy your sense of balance. It is impossible to pour from an empty cup. Normalizing and addressing mental health recovery is the goal of Communities Voices. Let’s change the future of Black Americans by demonstrating healthy habits. Go ahead, light that candle, take a relaxing bath, go for a walk, work out, or do whatever you do for self-care. We deserve it. #Mentalhealthawareness #NoStigmay

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