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Black People: Don't Avoid Mental-Health Services


In a piece for Ebony, Dr. Donald E. Grant Jr., a psychologist, encourages black people to give therapists, psychologists and other mental-health experts a chance to weigh in on their wellness needs. 

Although Black suicide has historically been low when compared to other groups, don’t be fooled.  From 1981-1994, Black suicide rates grew by a ghastly 83%. Today suicide is the third leading cause of death among young African American men.  In 2010, over 80% of all Black suicides were males. Women of most all ethnicities attempt suicide at a higher rate than men, yet men complete the task at a higher rate; a stomach pump does nothing for a gun-shot wound to the head.Black women are less likely than any other American demographic to commit suicide …

Why do so many of us still refuse to get help? We are well represented in the barbershops and beauty salons on Friday, in the nightclubs on Saturday and at church on Sunday…yet our presence in the therapy room remains nil. Do we believe that we can style, party and pray ourselves to mental wellness?  I do see psychic value in a fresh haircut, a strong social support system and sturdy spiritual foundation. I do, however, have a problem with our community’s practice of praying ‘demons’ out of people plagued by schizophrenia, or beating the defiance out of a boy suffering from undiagnosed bi-polar disorder.

Many strong and resilient qualities exist throughout Black communities.  The natural selection of those Africans who survived colonialism and the Middle Passage left a gene pool worth note.  We cannot leave our legacy to untended psychological injuries.  Access to mental health services has improved in most communities and is often offered at low to no cost.  Our culture sanctions the rejection of this rich experience, limiting our exposure to its value. 


Read Dr. Donald E. Grant Jr.'s entire piece at Ebony. 

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


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