July is National Minority Mental Health Month. This is a subject that goes unspoken about in the Black community. But it should be discussed all the time because many of us suffer in silence for many reasons. We have to start discussing mental health and ways to get help and manage the disease. Other cultures do a better job of receiving the help they need, discussing it and managing their symptoms.

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We all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by events in our lives. If you have a mental health condition, you’re not alone. One in 5 American adults experiences some form of mental illness in any given year. And across the population, 1 in every 20 adults is living with a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or long-term recurring major depression. With proper treatment, people can realize their full potential, cope with the stresses of life, work productively and meaningfully contribute to the world.

Warning Signs

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:
• Excessive worrying or fear
• Feeling excessively sad or low
• Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
• Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
• Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
• Avoiding friends and social activities

For the rest of the list of symptoms, you can visit https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs.

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How Does Mental Health Affect The Black Community?

African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers.  According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.

Common mental health disorders among African Americans include:
• Major depression
• Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
• Suicide, among young African American men
• Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because African Americans are more likely to be victims of violent crime
African Americans are also more likely to experience certain factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition.

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Reaching Out For Help

Don’t hesitate in reaching out to your local mental health authority for support. NAMI is also a good resource for support and resources.

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI educates, listens, and leads.

Video

Check out “African American Mental Health Voices from NAMI” by Amanda Wang on Vimeo.

The video is available for your viewing pleasure at https://vimeo.com/36995523

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This information is courtesy of NAMI

Photos: Google

Damita Miller-Shanklin, Ujima Magazine