Seeking Psychotherapy

You’re extremely exhausted, you can’t control your outburst and now your world feels like it’s no longer belongs to you. These could be signs of something more serious than just being “tired”. You like 4.4 million Americans could be struggling with a mental illness, which unlike the common cold, getting treatment is not easy. While therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors are all Mental Health Care professionals, they all play many roles in getting adequate treatment.

Psychotherapy, a term used within the Mental Health field, simply means “talk therapy”. Known to be the most effective key treatment option, talk therapy has been around since 1879 and is constantly being integrated with many other forms of therapy. While there are various key techniques that contribute to the success of talk therapy, open ended questioning provides the consumer with an opportunity to be heard and the professional a chance to observe body language and tone.

If you are still hesitant about seeking therapy, here are a few tips to help ease some of your dismay.

Awareness of Your Mental State

When you have a mental illness one behavior/ symptom is the thought that you are perfectly A Okay. Persistent Depressive Disorder is a type of depression in which symptoms last for a minimum of 2 years. While many consumers express that they experience symptoms of despair for at least 10 years, they don’t seek treatment due to the thought that they are truly ok. Being aware of a change in your behavior may be difficult to do in the beginning. Changes such as an inability to sleep, irritability or decrease in appetite that continuously occur may not indicate a mental illness; however, uncontrollable crying, delusions and hallucinations indicate a serious internal alarm that you are experiencing an episode.

TIP: Start a daily journal, take notes or voice record patterns, moods or even things that you normally enjoy doing. This will be awesome for a visit to your mental health care provider because it will provide a consistent behavior pattern.

Understand Your CoPay and Insurance Plan

Although having medical insurance is a huge financial help, most insurance companies do not ensure full coverage. It is important to pull your coverage or call your insurance company to get all of the facts before you attend your first session.

TIP: Some tests are not covered by your insurance company, find out the exact terms of your coverage.

Research Mental Health Care Professionals

This step is very crucial and vital to a successful relationship between consumer and professional. You can find out their professional background, disbarment, primary focus and much more on many websites. Each mental health care professional plays a specific role in managing your illness.

TIP: Find one close to your home, work or a friend for an easy option for cooling down.

You Can Always Change Doctors

Finding a doctor is not as easy as it may seem. Every doctor has a different approach and sometimes you may not feel comfortable with their approach. If you are not meshing well or feel as though their diagnosis does not seem accurate, feel free to get a second opinion. Once you have a positive connection with a doctor of your choice the better your experience will be.

TIP: You know your body best, if you are experiencing unusual side effects or feel over medicated express your concerns to your doctor.

Have a Support Team

You may be exhausted after all of the searching and attending sessions so make sure that you have a strong support group for those difficult times. Some sessions will be intense and trigger some unwanted symptoms or feelings. You may need a friend to just be there for extra comfort.

TIP: You don’t have to share your sessions with friends unless you absolutely want too.

Try to Be Open, Honest and Consistent

Last but not least remain transparent. This will be the only way your Mental Health care professional can adequately treat your illness. The better insight on your symptoms, behaviors and experiences the real managing can begin.

TIP: Let your doctor know how difficult the topic may be before you begin to discuss your feelings. They can ease into the subject and ultimately be there for you.

Seeking Psychotherapy

Budget Increases for Mental Health and What It Means For Our Community

By: Lindsay Anderson

A new year means a new budget for America. The HR2029 budget bill of 2016 has been given and Mental Health has seen an increase of $400 Million Dollars. That sounds like a huge amount of money when America is in a financial deficit that seems to be increasing every second. And even with this increase for Mental Health many question what and where does the money go?

First, let’s talk about the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). If you have ever wondered where the bulk of the funds go it is to this institute.  The NIMH is the lead federal agency that administers research on mental disorders. There are 27 Institutes and Center that play a part in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which is the nation’s medical research agency. NIMH does research on major diseases like Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Depression and many other disorders. The test examine everything from cellular, molecular, behavioral, brain function and clinical investigations.

So knowing what they do, how does all of the research and testing weigh to actually getting treatment out to consumers? Well that goes hand and hand with each state. Each state also receives a funds and they can disperse the funds as they see fit. The problem is most states don’t see Mental Health research as a valuable piece of information. With the rise in Suicide( 12.9 per 100,000) and now the 10th leading cause of death prevention and treatment should be a top priority.

There are also other programs that receive money underneath this increase, programs like new Project AWARE with $49.9 million ( +$10 million ) or the Mental Health Block Grant program which receive a $50 million increase. And with the newly additional funds there is also some new requirements to ensure that research and data findings are concentrated on evidence-based plans that are geared to serious mental illnesses.

Hopefully with new programs and increased cash there will a larger focus on advocacy from consumers and non consumers alike. It doesn’t matter how much money is being used to gather resourceful information to treat these illness if we don’t begin to seek the help that is needed. There are so many programs and initiatives that are cut every year and if we don’t voice the severity of mental wellness, I am fearful that millions will continue to decline in the future.

To find out more information on the 2016 FY Budget <—- CLICK HERE

Lindsay Anderson is the Editor-In-Chief and Founder of ConsciouslyCoping.org, a Mental Wellness social media site that primarily focuses on educating minorities, underprivileged and lower income based families on healthy approaches of managing Mental Illnesses.

President Barack Obama on Mental Health and Dropping the Stigma

 

Budget Increases for Mental Health and What It Means For Our Community

Toxins in the Hood

By: Cassandra Bazile

When we hear of racial injustice, we tend to think of police brutality or the criminal justice system’s war against minorities; but what about the air and water we consume? “Environmental racism”, a term coined in the 1980s, plagues the United States as many illegal dumps, chemical plants and sewage treatment plants reside in the backyards of people of color and the poor. Polices and practices are implemented to discriminate against people based on race and social class by forcing them live in areas near facilities that are major causes of pollution. These waste facilities contain toxins and carcinogens such as lead, cobalt and Styrene. People who live in these areas are inhaling and consuming toxins that can cause generational defects. Research has shown that middle class African Americans who make between $50,000-60,000 a year are more likely to live in a polluted neighborhood than white Americans who make just $10,000 a year.  Don’t believe me? Let’s talk about some cases of environmental racism.

Along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge there are over 150 industrial factories that produce a quarter of the nation’s petrochemicals. The 85-mile stretch, infamously known as “Cancer Alley”, has been known for the unusual cases of cancer and mysterious illness that happen in its vicinity. How do these chemicals ultimately lead to cancer?  Well, it first started with the residents awaking to mysterious ash on their cars every morning. The ash soon caused putrid smells which, eventually, the residents became accustomed to. After a while the residents became used to the pollution, unaware of their diminishing health.

With the decline of industries such coal mining and petroleum, many white Americans suffer from environmental bias as well. The decline of industry also brought the decline of the livelihood of those that depended on those jobs.

Flint, Michigan recently made headlines for a water crisis in which Flint changed its water source from Lake Hurton to Flint River, which had major lead contamination. Exposure to lead causes developmental problems in children including impaired cognition, delayed puberty and a variety of behavioral problems. Between 6,000 and 12,000 children where exposed to lead and are now haunted by  life-long impending health problems. Coverage of this crisis raised the debate of whether the race and social status of Flint’s residents had to do with this situation.

Flint was once an industrial powerhouse and housed General Motors’ largest plant. The plant downsized in the 1980s, taking the jobs from residents and negatively impacting the livelihood of the city. Many of Flint’s residents live below the national poverty line and over 40% are African American. The state’s actions following the exposure of the contaminated water being pumped into Flint were questionable to say the least, leaving questions about whether the situation’s handling had to do with the racial and socioeconomic demographics of Flint.

So what now?

Laws to protect Americans against environmental bias have long existed. In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed a bill to ensure the goal of achieving environmental protection for all communities.  It has been shown that areas of impoverished people have not reaped the benefits since the bill was never enforced. Over 20 years later, we are still battling to enforce these laws in areas where the people aren’t heard. The environmental protection agency (EPA) has a department that is specifically concerned with civil rights and in its 22-year history the office has not found a case of discrimination. Surprised?Environmental racism doesn’t just affect the generation of people living there. Environmental toxins can cause generational damage. The cycle of bias when it comes to the environment in which we are born and raised, or where we play, live, and work perpetuates the oppression of minorities and low-income communities.

Cassandra Bazile is a Graduate Student at the University of Miami, currently pursing a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology. She graduated from Morgan State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and then moved to Boston where she worked at MIT for 3 years. Cassandra has a deep rooted love for science and research. Her Interest Include Women’s Health, Fitness, and Community Outreach.  

Bibliography

1. Huffington Post, (2016) “EPA to Weaken Civil Rights Protections Under Obama”. New York, New York.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keith-rushing/epa-to-weaken-civil-right_b_9069362.html

2. The New York Times. (2016) “A Question of Environmental Racism in Flint”. NEW YORK, NEW YORK. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/us/a-question-of-environmental-racism-in-flint.html?_r=0

3. Pollution Issues. “Cancer Alley, Louisiana”.  http://www.pollutionissues.com/Br-Co/Cancer-Alley-Louisiana.html

4. Lee, Trymaine. MSNBC. .(2014) “Cance Alley: Big Industry, Big Problems”. http://www.msnbc.com/interactives/geography-of-poverty/se.html

5. (2013) “Mapping the Cancer Corridor along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast”. https://dabrownstein.com/category/cancer-alley/

Internet Resources

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_racism

2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancer_Alley

3.“Environmental Racism explained”. Online Video clip. Youtube, 29, Jan 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toxins in the Hood

Make It Relevant: A Cultural Approach to Healthcare

By: Daphney Dorcius, MPH

The United States is an increasingly global society; currently, immigrants make up 30% of the nation’s population, and this percentage is projected to increase to 50% by 2050 (7). The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Florida has the largest immigrant population in the country, making it one of the contributing the most to the diversity of the nation. Minority populations including African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latinos have a higher prevalence of chronic disease, higher mortality rates, and poorer health outcomes, compared to the White population. In order to make improvements in health equity, disparities-focused interventions in health care delivery will be necessary (1).

Although health disparities have been documented across minority populations, each subpopulation faces specific challenges and risks. There are nearly 53 million Hispanics living in the United States, making up about 20% of the population (9). Poorer health outcomes among Hispanics can be largely attributed to linguistic and cultural barriers as well as the lack of access to preventive care. Heart disease, stroke, and diabetes are the main causes of death within this population, with the rate of obesity being higher than non-Hispanic Whites. African Americans make up the second largest minority group in the U.S., with a population of approximately 43 million in 2012 (1,9). Similarly to Hispanics, African Americans face a higher mortality rate than Whites. Causes of death, chief among being stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and homicide, can be largely attributed to socioeconomic and cultural forces. Similarly to African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives face barriers such as geographic location and culture, that prevents them from receiving quality medical care. As a result, some of the leading causes of death seen within this ethnic group include heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Although Asian Americans have the highest life expectancy than any other group in the US, it is worth noting that due to factors such as fear of deportation and language/cultural barriers, a high prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and liver disease has been reported within this population, together with an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes (US Department of Health and Human Services) (9). Significant health disparities faced by minority populations indicate that cultural factors present a unifying barrier to quality health care in the U.S., and are largely responsible for the disproportionate burden of negative health outcomes among non-Whites.

The consideration of cultural factors in dialogue surrounding health care and patient- centered care has been absent for too long. Health care providers are now facing the reality of having to adapt their current methods of health care delivery to become more culturally responsive. Such an approach requires providers to think differently when addressing the physical and behavioral health needs of patients. Consequently, National CLAS standards were put into place as a form of Blueprint for the acquisition of Cultural Competency within the health sector (10). Critics questioned CLAS’s applicability due to the underlying notion that competency necessitates measurement scales that could not be applied to assess cultural awareness. In the effort to resolve this issue, Cultural Responsiveness was proposed. Many prefer this term “Responsiveness” because it places an emphasis on one’s ability to respond to the diversity of communities by focusing on social and cultural factors impacting patients’ lives (8).

A clear understanding of culture is crucial in health care delivery because culture has the ability to influence the decisions, attitudes and beliefs of patients in relation to their access and engagement in healthcare, and can exponentially impact health outcomes. Culture plays a critical role in the patient’s perception of health care delivery, their experiences in relation to health and illness, and their ability to reject, accept, and commit to proposed treatment options (6). The literature acknowledges the importance of cultural awareness within the health sector because of the impact it has on prevention and health promotion initiatives, but emphasizes the necessity for responsiveness to enhance of patient-provider relationship and improvement in health outcomes within minority communities (4,5,6).

Dr. Erin Kobetz, whose research into the cultural barriers that prevent Haitian women from accessing breast cancer screening methods in Miami, Florida, exemplifies cultural responsiveness to healthcare in minority communities. Although mammography screening has been recognized as the screening method of choice to decrease morbidity and mortality from breast cancer in women in the U.S., women from minority ethnic groups, especially those who are foreign born, have not used these resources adequately. Consequently, a disproportionate number of women from these groups die of late-stage breast cancer, which, if caught at a treatable stage, could have been prevented (3). The findings of the research showed that Haitian women in Miami did not receive routine mammograms due to barriers including language and communication problems, citizenship and immigration, and social-cultural customs. Her work emphasizes that these barriers should be considered within the social context of patients’ lives in order to develop and implement effective interventions (3).

More than half (57%) of Haitian women are monolingual Kreyol speakers (3). Therefore, these women would be less likely to access care because of the discomfort and fear caused by their inability to understand the language their being spoken to. As a result, poor quality of communication and a lack of trust between Haitian women and health care providers are likely to impact diagnostic reliability and decrease treatment adherence. Furthermore, the cultural depiction of health differs across cultures. Haitian women describe health as absence of obvious physical or psychological symptoms (3). For diseases that are asymptomatic and can be prevented via screening, it is highly likely that these women will have a higher morbidity and mortality rate than women of other groups because they will not access health care on a timely manner. Being able to understand this aspect of the culture of a population will therefore allow health care providers to respond in the appropriate manner via education, screening intervention, and counseling, all of which can be tailored to their beliefs. For example, plant based remedies are highly valued within the Haitian culture. Understanding that the usage of oil and plant based mixtures for cleansing of the body inside and outside is important for appropriate response, prevention of Drug-Drug interactions, and even for preventative methods. Finally, diagnostic is associated with death within the Haitian community. As a result, the people will be less likely to go to health care facilities out of fear. Being able to understand that can strongly affect the deliver of messages regarding diagnostic in a manner that would promote continue of care by the patient.

Skin color should not be used as an indicator of similarity of cultural beliefs and practices because of differences in heritage (1,4). For instance, many similarities exist between the African American culture (people of African descent) and Caribbean, but there are key cultural differences that have the capacity of impacting health outcomes. For example, African American families tend not to be restricted to blood related members to often include non-related individuals (5). Therefore, when acquiring information on family history, and when counseling patients on inheritable conditions, it is important to be mindful of the formulation of the questions. Beyond this, older generations tend to be more conservative and traditional. They tend to have a strong voice in the decision making within families while also holding housekeeping task within their households (2,5). Because of the strong families ties and their cultural norms, institutionalization of the Elders has been historically avoided.

Minority populations face an array of interconnected social factors that ultimately determine health outcomes at the population level. The literature has shown that living in disadvantaged neighborhoods increase the risk of negative health outcomes such as obesity, and the prevalence of chronic illnesses increase because of limited access to healthy affordable food (4,6). The relationship between faith and health outcomes plays a crucial role in addressing health disparities. People within the African American ethnic group have a strong affiliation to their parish. A good understanding on this aspect of their culture allows for better management of health related behavior that could be linked to their faith. Finally, understanding the type of diet that a person consumes based on their culture, and being able to link this information with convenience and cost is another avenue to influence the dietary habits of individuals from minority groups impacted by economical barriers.

Health equity has become the main topic of interest within our heath care system because of the common goal among health care providers, policy makers, and the community at large. In addition to contributing to better health outcomes and improvement of diagnostic accuracy, cultural responsiveness in health care has the capacity to increase adherence to recommended treatment by allowing health care providers to obtain complete health information from the patient due to better communication between health care provider and patient. Because the provider is much more informed, he/she is able to make more accurate assessment mindful of the patients’ cultural background. Because social-cultural barriers are understood when this type of care is applied, there a decrease in the delay in health care seeking and therefore, increase the quality of life and care. The patient is much more comfortable in seeking care because they feel that their culture is respected, and therefore, they, themselves feel respected. It is widely accepted that quality of care is a right for all regardless of cultural norms present witting a certain group. Thus, culturally responsive health care delivery has emerged as the new blueprint of health care practices.

Daphney Dorcius earned her Masters in Public Health from University of Miami is now a first-year medical student at Florida International University. She has a strong interest in the field of community health and an intense desire to fight against health disparities.

Works Cited

1. Anyanya Mandal, M. (2014, October 8). What are Health Disparities? Retrieved 2016, from News Medical: http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-are-Health- Disparities.aspx

2. Carteret, M. (2011, Summer). Health Care for African American Patients/Families. Dimensions of Culture Newsletter .

3. Erin Kobetz, J. M. (2010). Barriers to Breast Cancer Screening Among Haitian Immigrant Women in Little Haiti, Miami. Journal of Immigrant Minority Health , 12, 520-526. 4. Maria, C. (2008). Cross-Cultural communications of health care professionals . Retrieved 2016, from Dimensions of culture : http://www.dimensionsofculture.com/2010/10/576/

5. McMillan, F. (2013, April 29). Culturally Responsive Health Care. Indigenous Allied Health Australia.

6. The Partnership Connection . (2015, May). Providing Culturally Responsive Health Care. News for the Pediatric Community .

7. U S Census Bureau. (2014). Projections of the size and composition of the US population: 2014 to 2060. Current population reports , 25-1143.

8. UCare. (n.d.). Culturally Competent Care. Retrieved 2016, from UCare: Health care that starts with you : https://www.ucare.org/providers/Resources-Training/Provider- Manual/Pages/ProviderManual_19.aspx

9. US Department of Health and Human Services. (2014, March 1). Minority Health HHS. Retrieved 2016, from OMH: http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=2&lvlID=26

10. US Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). ClAS and CLAS Standards. Retrieved from Think Cultural Health: https://www.thinkculturalhealth.hhs.gov/content/clas.asp

Make It Relevant: A Cultural Approach to Healthcare

Suffering In Silence: Mental Health Conversations in Communities of Color

As a person of color, the topic of mental health is avoided like the plague in our community. We all have that family member or friend who, at the mere mention of going to counseling, shouts back “I’m not crazy”; “You should pray about it”; “Tough it out”; “Therapy’s for White people”. These answers are further distractions from the real problem. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with seeking counseling services from your religious leaders, of which is a great support system for those who believe. However, there are some things that require a different outlook. There’s just something about a fresh perspective that can bring about change. I’ll admit to being a novice in the field, but I can say that I do have some African American clients. However, amid the few, a substantial portion fails to receive continuous care (Snowden & Yamada, 2005). High levels of untrustworthiness and the stigma drenched with the word therapy/counseling may influence this lack of commitment. A part of the problem lies in the lack of public discussion and recognition of these disparities in our community and what can be done about them. Something needs to change ASAP because I, for one, am tired of hearing about the behavior of members of another race being dismissed as a result of mental health difficulties, but my own people who are struggling mentally, just as much in some areas and more in others, being publicly ridiculed, never even given the chance to defend themselves, while struggling to stay afloat in a society that was built on our backs and which is working hard to keep us that way.

The key word here is suffering because that’s exactly what we’re doing. While many people from all different backgrounds find the topic of mental health a difficult one to discuss, African Americans especially have created such a negative association with the term that discussion is actively avoided. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Services, African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than non-Hispanic Whites. Unfortunately for us, this stress is often coupled with higher levels of poverty, with those living below the poverty line being 3 times more likely to report psychological distress, when compared to those living twice the poverty level. Yet and still, White people are receiving nearly double the amount of mental health services than African Americans. A more common practice in the African American culture is to seek help from family and friends, not from “out-group members” as therapists may be viewed (Vogul et al., 2007).

To go back to the earlier misconception of being “crazy” as a reason to seek counseling, I for one do not like to use the “c” word with anyone. EVERYBODY has struggles at one point or another in their life. Therapy helps you work through them and helps you find the most effective and productive resolution. Everyone in therapy doesn’t have a diagnosis of Bipolar or Schizophrenia. Therapy can also help you work through grief, trauma due to things such as natural disasters, relationship stress, among countless other things. Yes, you can lean on friends and family for support during these times. In fact, minority groups who value close networks have been found to use family and friends rather than counselors when seeking help (Vogul et al., 2007). African American youth tend to use a family member more often than White American youth when experiencing a problem (Vogul et al., 2007). I hear you when you wonder why someone would want to pay a person to listen to his or her problems, but I promise we have a lot more to offer than our ears. Although each client is unique and each culture has its differences, through research and experience, providers have and will gain the knowledge necessary to assist minorities if you let us.
One thing we don’t see enough of is our own people offering these services. As a member of a non-dominant population, it can be hard to relate to, or expect to be related to, a person of the dominant population, especially when some of their actions have contributed to your suffering. I remember expressing my despondency regarding my relocation to a predominantly White area. Nothing wrong with White friends, I just missed my people. Speaking with a White male, he compared it to his relocation and having to adjust to fishing for a different type of fish than he was used to. I get the analogy, but c’mon now, I’m a person not a fish. Insensitivity has a huge impact on the needs of minorities seeking services and may in fact contribute to why we tend to run the other direction. However, there are issues much bigger than this that are causing us so much pain that it’s worth the exploration to find someone who you can relate to. As much as this profession is growing and expanding, the rate of ethnically diverse providers is struggling to keep up. With this in mind, it’s important for all practitioners to be culturally sensitive to the problems brought to therapy. This is important for clients to know too that they may need to provide a more in depth explanation of their struggles, and it may take some time to find someone they’re comfortable with. Cultural sensitivity can have many interpretations, but here it’s referring to awareness of unique differences that impact treatment. For instance, some symptoms may be misinterpreted in certain cultures as something other than a mental health issue. As an example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that numerous African Americans struggle to identify symptoms, underestimating the impact that it may be having on a person’s life. Take depression, it may be written off and referred to as “the blues” when in reality it is a common mental health disorder experienced among African Americans more often than White Americans.

Anybody out there familiar with the TV series A Different World? I recently began binge watching it again on Netflix, and there was an episode where Whitley attended one therapy session when her feelings for Dwayne and Julian were conflictual. Her one take away was “relax, relate, release”, and I’ve noticed in future episodes that she repeats that same phrase in times of stress. Though comically expressed through Jasmine Guy’s overly dramatic character, it was a great example of one of the many benefits therapy has to offer: the things you learn can be applied to different areas of your life and used over and over again. This is especially true due to the fact that the likelihood of African Americans currently receiving services decreases if there was past service (Broman, 2012). I was pleasantly surprised at even the slightest mention of the subject of therapy in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Psychological distress doesn’t necessarily mean a diagnosable disorder; it simply refers to your mind feeling overloaded with what life has thrown at you.

There has also been a lot of discussion around medication that is offered in conjunction to therapy. True, it can be helpful, but it’s also costly in the long run of continuously having to refill prescriptions. Therapy is about activating tools that you already have within yourself to work through troubling situations. Let me tell you something, the old me was against this ‘hoopla’, as it’s often referred to, at one point too. I’ve experienced things in my life where therapy crossed my mind, and just as swiftly I kicked it out. I won’t sugar coat it, it’s a very vulnerable process; sharing your personal story with a stranger, anticipating judgment and backlash for what you have to say, expecting to be misheard and misunderstood. But for your own good, sometimes you have to take that chance. Speaking from personal experience, it’s a necessity. Just like your doctors and dentists appointments, hair appointments, even the popular need for retail therapy and other personal care appointments, this mental health check-up is just as, if not more, important.

Cost is something that can also contribute to this suffering. Many people think that all these services are offered at an unreasonable price, and that just isn’t true. There are numerous community health clinics that offer these services to individuals with or without insurance and on a sliding scale fee. Sometimes these places also have interns, who are training in the field under the supervision of a licensed professional, and offer these services free of charge. This can also be found on college campus’ that again, offer services on a sliding scale fee and sometimes free of charge. All this requires is a little research, whether it’s through the Internet, word of mouth, or asking other health care providers for referrals.

With all of the discrimination and injustice present in society, because unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, why not strengthen your mind so that we can continue to fight back. When will the media talk about the possibility of a black mans actions being attributed to mental health issues? When we find the motivation in ourselves to take control of our lives and stop being afraid to acknowledge that we need help. Suffering in silence is more detrimental than allowing someone who is qualified to return you to your most empowered state.

Alysha Thomas is a native of Newton, MA and a current resident of Hattiesburg, MS. In the fall she is relocating to California to obtain a Doctorate degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and is looking forward to serving in an urban community to increase the level of ethnic participation in mental health care. Alysha enjoys cooking, being outdoors, and almost everything social.

Sources:

Broman, C. L. 2012. Race differences in the receipt of mental health services among young adults. Psychological Services, 9(1), 38-48.

Snowden, L. R. & Yamada, A. 2005. Cultural differences in access to care. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 1, 143-166.

Vogul, D. L., Wester, S. R., & Larson, L. M. 2007. Avoiding counseling: Psychological factors that inhibit seeking help. Journal of Counseling & Development, 85, 410-422.

http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=3&lvlid=61

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/African-Americans

Suffering In Silence: Mental Health Conversations in Communities of Color

Sometimes It Is Just Black & White | The Color Wheel

Let’s talk straight no chaser! When it comes to being a black woman in America a mental illness is the last thing that you would also like to have associated with your name. Take myself for instance, I have dealt with Depression for most of my life and it wasn’t until I was 27 years old that I realized how much I needed help. I never thought about telling anyone in my family about my struggles or even my experiences. So when I decided to create a mental health blog showcasing my life, I knew it was going to be seen as an attention seeking affair. Little did I know how much therapy this blog was going to be not only for me, but for other people who looked like me.

In the mental health community there are very few African Americans. From support groups, rallies, speaking engagements and even research centers we are lacking representation. From my experience alone I have always been the only black person and black woman in many support groups, I have never encountered a black mental health professional and I have never met someone who was open and as honest as I am about their illness. Until recently, I thought that it didn’t even matter.

When I began talking to young, black girls about their daily lives, I was shocked to hear that they were open and honest about their emotions, but felt like no one wanted to listen to them. How is that? How can it be that way when you are born to a mother and father? Shouldn’t they want to listen? Aren’t they asking fact finding questions? How are we not showing compassion to our own children?

Let’s get to the facts…

“Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a real illness. You can get PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event, such as a war, hurricane, sexual assault, physical abuse, or a bad accident. Although you are no longer in danger, PTSD makes you feel stressed and afraid. It affects you and the people around you.

Consumers with PTSD can experience a range of emotions such as flashbacks, hallucinations, “going blank”, detachment from events and others, trouble sleeping, nervousness, or being over aware. PTSD can also be accompanied by other mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar and schizophrenia.

PTSD does not only effect one age group or race; however, it is proven to be more prevalent in “urban communities”, veterans and patients with other mental disorders. Anyone who has faced a traumatic event like sexual assault, combat, life threatening events  or witnessed others, survivors of natural disasters, unexpected loss of someone or illness that caused severe pain or procedures can develop PTSD”(1).

With adequate treatment including psychotherapy, medications and support from family and friends, PTSD can be managed successfully. However, if left untreated, PTSD can last for months and even years depending on the severity.

In the summer of 2005, I was diagnosed with three different mental illnesses (yes it’s possible). The one I had always heard of was PTSD. Growing up I heard the term being used for survivors of rape, bank robberies and really bad car accidents. The term ” I put it in the back of my mind” was always used to describe what PTSD was and how it can come back to haunt you in the future.

I didn’t even feel like I had been involved in something traumatic enough to be considered a mental illness. So when I got the results from my evaluation, I was shocked. I never told the doctors that I was molested, I used to get bullied and threatened at school or I was in an abusive relationship in high school. So how could they have known about the things I locked away?

As I began thinking about it, I had never been asked how I was feeling or what I was feeling when I was at home. It wasn’t a topic of discussion at the dinner table. It wasn’t even a concern anywhere in my home. And I am sure in any black home we have all heard the ” Shut up. I don’t want to hear anything you have to say. Why are you crying?” Those negative statements which some of us have heard, mold us and begin to create other issues.

If a child has gone through something traumatic like maybe being bullied or threatened at school and has not had an outlet to voice their feelings and experience PTSD can begin to develop. So if you can’t feel safe and supported at home, then where else can you feel comfortable when there is no one that looks like you and shares your experiences in your Insurance Coverage Network?

We don’t see black health advocates on television, we don’t even see black people in medication ads or television shows (other than Andre on Empire). It’s as if black people are Immune to mental illness. The characters are superhuman and forever fearless. They don’t have any duality or vulnerability. When I think about segregation and slavery I always think about the long term psychological effects that it had and is still having on black people. With the current racial situations on the rise, PTSD still has a presence in our community.

I don’t think television is the key to representation or the hear all see all as well. If we don’t have prominent medical professionals, qualified programs and black advocates in our communities, we will continue to sweep mental illness under the rug. Yes it is a black or white thing because let’s be real we all choose what’s comfortable for us. And if you feel as though someone will understand your experience, then you would think they will understand what kind of treatment you need.

My question is who will step up?

Lindsay Anderson is the Editor-In-Chief and Founder of ConsciouslyCoping.org, a Mental Wellness social media site that primarily focuses on educating minorities, underprivileged and lower income based families on healthy approaches of managing Mental Illnesses.

(1) https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/posttraumaticstressdisorder.html

Sometimes It Is Just Black & White | The Color Wheel

The Bryson Tiller Effect: The Normalization of Unhealthy Black Relationships via Trapsoul

Bryson Tiller became a phenom last October when he dropped “Don’t” via his Soundcloud and later that month dropped his first album “Trapsoul.” Drake attempted to recruit him for OVO. Kylie Jenner was caught mouthing his lyrics on snapchat when her and Tyga were having a rough patch. Kehlani claimed him as a friend on instagram. It was imperative that I figure out what the buzz was about. After listening to the album, I had to salute his skill– I even caught myself getting in my feelings! However, I heard what I wanted to hear the first few times through the album, cute lines sticking out to me as potential future instagram captions. It wasn’t until I was making the five hour drive from my hometown back to my college town that I started formulating this theory.

Young black relationships are caught up in the Bryson Tiller effect.

It has been speculated that Bryson Tiller penned Trapsoul while reminiscing and reflecting on his relationship with the mother of his adorable daughter. And although Tiller has openly said he’s written a lot of his music to remind women of their self-worth, as a woman who has (avidly) listened to his music, I can’t help but remain steadfast in my belief that Black monogamous relationships are on the decline and Bryson Tiller’s songs characterize an archetypal black man of this generation. This is not to say some of our daddy’s and grandpa’s weren’t dogs in their days too, but the approach to black love has shifted greatly since then. This tumultuous style of love Tiller croons about is crazy relatable for the average person who has been in a relationship, girl or guy.

Whether monogamy is good or bad is not the question here. In fact, I foresee a radical change in regards to the outlook of marriage unions in the future. The question I would rather discuss is why unhealthy relationships are so normalized and accepted in the black community.

The reality is, there is a historical struggle to maintain black relationships. In the Relationships section of the May 1987 issue of Ebony, there was an article titled “Has the Black Male Shortage Spoiled Black Men?.” I find it ironic that over 3 decades later, every single one of my girlfriends and I would answer that with a resounding YES.

Now, I’ve heard the argument that this Black male shortage is fabricated and that there are plenty of eligible Black bachelors. I’ve heard that Black women’s standards are too high (Steve Harvey is notorious for making this argument) and that Black women overlook good black men to deal with bad ones. However, men lie, women lie– but numbers don’t. There are just naturally less Black men than Black women in the U.S., with Black men comprising of 48% of the Black population. This does not include the estimated 6% of Black men who are incarcerated (so now we’re down to 42% unless you’re a Cardi B and down to ride), the Black men who identify as gay, and the Black men committed in interracial relationships. These are the most basic constraints, but obviously every woman has different standards and possibly additional standards that continue to decrease their Black options. Black women are also the least likely out of both racial and gender categories to engage in interracial relationships in the United States…but that is another conversation.

I was raised in a two parent household by Black parents who had no troubles expressing their love and care for one another. I am one of the lucky few who got to witness her father go above and beyond to see her mother happy, whether it was as simple as making her breakfast or as substantial as being her rock during her lowest moments. I note this to say that no, I am not scarred with daddy issues nor am I some man-hating feminist. I love my dad, I love Black men, and that cannot be used to discredit my argument.

With the above being said, I am 22 years old, and almost all of my romantic relationships with Black men in my age group have in some way or another followed “the sequence” that Tiller’s entire album represents. From the beginning of the album when he’s making his bid to get his girl back again because he obviously did something seriously wrong, to the end where he hopes to “right his wrongs,” Tiller’s music is a constant reminder of the errors I have made in previous relationships.

Some of the lines in his music infuriate me. They are reminders of the lines exes feed me when they want to get back in the picture, especially those who feel they’ve learned a lot from me in the relationship.

“You don’t know how much you helped me grow.” “This what happens when I think bout you, I get in my feelings.” “Let me show you the difference.” “Baby, I been sufferin, does that mean nothing? That’s gotta mean something.”

This has become the common courting process of this generation: it may begin in friendship or it may begin with a dude tryna get at you over SoulSwipe (Black Tinder) – either way, eventually strong connections grows and a relationship forms. You fall deep, get super sprung, and then the guy messes up…which generally refers to cheating in some shape or form, though not always. Relationship ends (though for some this may have to happen after a few mess ups). You have major difficulties rebuilding your self-esteem and pride but somehow you do it.

It is once you’ve nearly completed the healing process that these men you once had such strong bonds with decide that they are desperate to have you back in their lives — even if they have someone new in their life (like the girl he may have cheated on you with).

You might have someone new come in the picture to try and move on. Sometimes the rebound relationships don’t always work out (“girl, he only fucked you over cuz you let him”). Many of us have exes who believe they’re going to marry us anyways. “Lord please save her for me. Do this one favor for me.” “I’m coming back for good so let these n*ggas know its mine.”

Bryson Tiller’s lyrics are continuing this romanticized idea that ya down black girl will always take you back, even after you break her spirit in a multitude of ways. This is not an attack on Bryson Tiller nor his music; he is certainly not the first artist to make music surrounding these topics. However, this music does perpetuate these misogynistic ideas that we, as Black women, must do our best to combat and reverse.

Now wait, isn’t this ironic? Black women are supposedly notorious for being too strong-minded and dominant in their relationships. Yet, somehow, so many of us don’t know when to leave even when it is necessary in a relationship. When it comes to protecting our own hearts, Black women need to do better. No one else will do the job. We have to hold our partners accountable for their actions no matter how slim the pickings are; it is important we don’t lower our standards, as Black men like Steve Harvey tell us to do, but instead continue to raise them to end this cyclical process.

I’m 22 years old, so I have plenty of time to experience a healthy relationship before I settle down, but it’s scary for me to think that it may not be with a Black man. I want to be with a Black man, and the reality is, Black women are the pillar of the Black community. As a collective, we fight for Black men when they are being murdered by police. As a collective, we advocate for Black male lives almost more than we advocate for our own. As a collective, we must maintain our standards and require consistency from Black men, or we have to stop complaining, accept our circumstances, and attempt to widen our dating pool horizons.

Yaya Ketema is a 22 y/o from Berkeley and a recent graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara with double major in Philosophy/Black studies and an Education minor. She is planning on attending graduate school in the fall, though the location is not finalized quite yet. She spends a lot of her free time listening to music and daydreaming.

This article was originally published via myblackmatters.com.

The Bryson Tiller Effect: The Normalization of Unhealthy Black Relationships via Trapsoul