RaceRadical Self CareSex & Gender

we’re failing black boys and men on mental health

December 12, 2019
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According to the Center for Disease Control, African-American men and boys continue to have a higher death rate in 9 of the 10 leading causes of death than seen in their female counterparts — including suicide. In this case, men are three to seven times more likely than women to commit suicide, making it the 6th leading cause of death for men. Even more frightening, the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health has found that Black men are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the overall population.

In the instances where young Black men are exposed to violence, they are at a greater risk for PTSD by over 25 percent. Not only that, but Black people overall are at a higher risk of developing a mental health condition due to the discrimination, social isolation, homelessness, and the exposure to violence many of us will experience.

All of this comes to a head when we consider what has been the Black community’s perception of mental illness and seeking real treatment for it. Coupled with the type of toxic masculinity that dehumanizes boys and men by limiting the “acceptable” types of emotions they’re allowed to feel. Depression and anxiety usually aren’t one of them. It is not a coincidence that most male suicides happen to boys and men who have yet to be diagnosed with depression or even have a history of mental illness. According to the Men’s Health Network, this is thanks in large part to cultural stigmatization, inadequate mental health treatment, and men, in general, accessing health care less frequently in women.

Getting Black boys and men the mental health treatment they need and deserve is a complicated issue. For more information about depression and anxiety and men, check out the Men’s Health Network’s full summary, here.

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