The above clip is from the Issa Rae and Jussie Smollet produced web-series, Giants. The six-episode series takes a look at a trio of millennials struggling to get it together and navigate life's ups and downs. It takes a deep dive into mental health and sexuality, issues that are still somewhat stigmatized in the black community.
Statistically, people of color (specifically Blacks) are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than non-hispanic Whites, according to the US department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Services. What's remarkable is that young adult POCs are less likely to seek mental health services than their white counterparts, according to Clifford L. Broman, PhD, of Michigan State University. Broman’s article was published in the American Psychology Association’s journal Psychological Services. Stigma, lack of knowledge, trust and cultural understanding were key barriers to using mental health services, according to previous research with focus groups of blacks, Broman said.
So what is it about the Black experience in America that makes it a cultural rarity to seek help with mental issues? Mental health is something everyone has, so why do we fail to see how some might need more help with it than others? Personal weakness and mental health are not two sides of the same coin.
When will we admit that the Black experience in this country shapes the way we handle mental health? When you live by the code of survival, you learn to move from pain to pain and hurt to hurt without ever really dealing with it.
Healing, in this case, is both a personal and a cultural matter that deserves more attention. In light of recent events, including the notorious Stevie Stephens - also known as the Facebook Killer - it's obvious to see what happens when mental health issues go unchecked. At the same time, cases like this continue to contribute to the stigma of mental health care. Until society can weave mental health into the normalcy of every day life, we will continue to suffer in silence.