The rate of suicide among Black youth has doubled in the last 20 years, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. In fact, it is the third leading cause of death for Black Americans ages 15 to 24.
Though mental illness is not a new problem in the Black community, it has gone gravely overlooked. Historically, people of color in the United States, specifically Black Americans, have not had the freedom to express their mental-health concerns. The subject has been taboo within Black families for generations. But lately, many who battle mental illnesses, like Brown, have used social media platforms to tell their stories, good or bad.
And mental health care professionals are responding likewise. As a result, millions are becoming aware of the problem, as well as ways to help those who suffer from it.
Licensed Professional Counselor Monique Mort wants those who are battling mental illness, or whose youth may be battling it, to know that it’s OK to seek help. “It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s actually a show of strength,” says Mort, who works with youth in her private practice. “It’s so important for people of color to educate themselves on the prevalence of mental illness. We are not exempt. We are human.”
Mort and Jennifer Roland, PhD, a social worker/program developer who works with teenage girls and young mothers of color who have faced trauma, discuss with YES! coping mechanisms and cultural barriers. They give five ways to embrace and help Black youth who battle mental illnesses: 1) Keep Communication Open, 2) Encourage Less Time on Social Media/ProSocial Activities, 3) Be Supportive, 4) Take Their Feelings Seriously, 5) Erase The Stigma!
Read the full article on YesMagazine.org.