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  • Writer's pictureKara M. Zone

Let’s Get Rid of Mental Health Stigmas for Minority Communities

Let’s talk about mental health in minority communities—one of my absolute favorite topics to discuss. Being an Afro-Caribbean mixed young woman, I’ve heard so many things about mental health.

When I was 18 years old, I was diagnosed with mild depression. I always knew I had depression but never wanted to admit it. I deeply believed that I was just going through it because of “teenage” years. Within the African-American community, mental health is not talked about and is often looked down upon. I was so afraid to say that something was mentally wrong with me because I didn’t want to seem “crazy.” Thankfully, my mother was happy to help me with my depression; but not every child has an understanding parent like mine. Some parents within this community believe that mental health is a made-up thing, or you should just go to God. Unfortunately, this is similar in other minority communities. Minority communities have a lot of pain and hurt from discrimination, individuality issues, school, environment wars, and so on. But what is the percentage of mental health issues going on within these communities?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, only one in three African-Americans will receive mental health care, African-Americans are less likely to be offered meditation therapy or psychotherapy compared to the general population, and African-Americans are more likely to be incarcerated with mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorders and schizophrenia.

When it comes to American-Indian and Alaskan-Native communities, children and adolescents have the highest percentage of lifetime depressive episodes than any other ethnic group, and suicide was the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 34 in 2014.

In the Hispanic community, only one in 10 Hispanics with a mental disorder use mental health services, and in 2015, 18.9% of Hispanic students admitted to seriously attempting suicide; 15.7% planned an attempt; 11.3% had attempted suicide; and 4% had attempted suicide that led to an injury or an overdose.

Now when it comes to women in these communities, approximately one in nine women 18 and older have had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. Women experience depression twice as much as men in their lifetime, and women are twice as likely to experience an anxiety disorder. All of these stats go to show that mental illness is truly a problem in our communities, and something needs to be done to help them.

A majority of these communities face high poverty levels and low percentages of actual health care. So how do we help change the way mental health is looked at within the minority communities? Offering minority communities the correct programs and healthcare information can allow them to get the help they deserve.

It’s also important to make sure there are social workers within our communities' middle schools and high schools so students can have someone to talk to about what they are battling on a daily basis. If they don’t have a family to talk to, they can at least have someone at school who will be there to guide them in the right direction.

Another great initiative is having events in low-income minority communities to let them know about healthcare providers, benefits, and much more. They deserve to get help just as much as their Caucasian counterparts. Aldermen, governors, and even mayors in every city that has a large poor minority community should offer educational services and healthcare services, making sure that they don’t live in food deserts because alcohol and unhealthy food can factor into unhealthy mental habits.

There are so many things that can be done with mental health for minority communities but they need to be seen as a priority. Everyone wants to be safe, happy, healthy, and live a great life. No child should have to deal with adult, worldly problems and turn to suicide because they believe that’ll make their life better.

We have to change the stigma of mental health in minority communities, and it starts with education. What are your thoughts on mental health for minority communities? Do you have other ideas on how to help these communities?

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Hello, my name is Alexis Williamson (soon-to-be Audrey). I am a young, aspiring screenwriter from the south side of Chicago, IL. I've wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl and decided a year ago to major in screenwriting so I can write movies! I have other interests in music, fashion, and painting. I love meeting people from all walks of life, cooking, and having intellectual conversations. I am a tea lover and a cat mom!

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