I was talking to a friend a couple days ago about something that he was going through and we got on the subject of Black people seeking professional help. What also brought this to my mind is the recent incidents with Kanye West. Now I am not saying that he does or doesn’t have mental issues, because I am not in his inner circle or close to him, but it made me wonder why is it that when Black people profess that they are going through something or that they need help, it is seen as being taboo or they are shunned for it?
Now I have written a post about this topic before, but I wanted to bring it back up. I feel it’s a serious, relevant topic especially given the increased police brutality our community has faced over the past few years. We are still dealing with the aftermath of slavery, which our great-great grandparents, and so forth, have endured and have passed down these mental illnesses through generations.
Going to a psychiatrist is seen as a white thing and that only white people can have mental illnesses. My thing is with white privilege and white supremacy, there is nothing for them to have issues about. For hundreds of years they have oppressed, raped, mutilated, murdered, etc., a great many people of color. If anything, there should be more people of color seeking professional help.
In our community, we always get the “I’ll pray for you” or “Stay strong” or “You are man/woman and you have to be strong for you family.” Excuse my language, but that’s bullshit. Praying for me and telling me to stay strong is not going to help me get through what I’m going through. Sometimes we need someone to just listen or be able to just cry to. Often times not being able to have those options, causes us to bottle things up and we lash out in very dangerous ways.
I’ve been to therapy and it was a very traumatic experience for me and I hadn’t gone back. This was about 7 years ago, which is how long I’ve been single. I’ve been thinking of going back and this time to a Black therapist. I went through a lot with my last relationship and I still haven’t recovered from it. When people go through terrible breakups, they carry that baggage and all that hurt with them throughout their relationships that follow.
There are many other things that affect our mental health such as rape, murder, racism, being passed over for a job, unequal pay and our diet. I think that our diet is one of the main factors when it comes to mental health in the Black community, we have been brainwashed and mentally conditioned to believe that the way that we eat is okay because our families have eaten that way for generations. Well truth be told, our grandparents, and those before them, did not have other options or the resources to educate themselves on why this food was killing them or making them ill. That goes back again to slavery. We have not healed from any of that.
As a community we have to seek the help that we need and stop thinking that it’s not okay to be going through something that you can’t handle on your own.