Speaking out about mental illness or seeking help was seen as a taboo within Black culture for years, but the topic has seen a turning point recently, according to a sociologist in Fayetteville.
According to Fayetteville State University sociology professor Stacye Blount, the Black community has not embraced taking care of mental health as they have taken care of their physical health.
“Some scholars have said that because we have to live with the stigma of our skin tone, self-identification as Black or African-American … that it’s possible, historically, that Black people have tried to minimize stigma,” she said. “Therefore, mental health is perceived as a stigma for some sectors of society. It’s just one thing that we have not embraced as much.”
Blount said she can’t pinpoint when the shift in Black culture began to place more emphasis on mental health care, but there have been a variety of influences.
“As resources have become more available and people have become more knowledgeable about mental health and services associated with mental health, individuals in the African-American community have embraced a more accepting posture towards that,” she said.
She said another factor for the shift can be attributed to the increase of Black mental health professionals.
“People seem to be more comfortable with people that look like them or self-identify in the same manner that they may self-identify,” she said.
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