Health Advocates are continuing to raise concerns about mental illness in the Black community and the need for more services to address the mental health needs of minority communities.
While National Minority Health Awareness Month just ended, the issue remains a taboo subject in most communities, which means that that pressing needs often fail to be recognized.
Gigi Crowder, Ethnic Service Manager & Cultural Responsiveness Coordinator for Alameda County Behavioral Services, feels the conversation about mental health needs is long overdue.
“If we are to reduce discrimination and stigma, we have to re-educate the general population and dispel stereotypes and myths,” Crowder says.
In 2011, Crowder and a group at Alameda County Behavioral Services produced a report that showed that while African Americans were receiving mental health services at increased rates, the results were inconsistent and raised the question: Are Blacks receiving proper care?
Statistics show African Americans are less likely to receive accurate diagnosis, and cultural biases about mental health and health care professionals in general prevent many from accessing care.
“We in the African American community are coping in such a toxic environment that doesn’t honor us or our past contributions,” Crowder said. “Much of what we see being played out through violence and self destructive behaviors in our youth are unaddressed mental health needs”.
She says an “I don’t care mentality” is birthed from living in a society that reminds African Americans, especially young Black males, that their lives are less important.
For more information about mental illness and mental health care services, visit www.acbhcs.org or call (510) 567-8100.