Most people know Kofi Siriboe from the OWN television drama series, Queen Sugar, where he plays Ralph Angel Bordelon, a Louisiana native struggling to get it right as son, a brother and father. In real life, Kofi Siriboe is using his using his own struggles to create a platform for a much needed discussions around mental health in the Black community. “WTF Is Mental Health?” is a … Continue reading Kofi Siriboe’s mini documentary ask “WTF Is Mental Health?”
My mother warned me to NEVER tell anyone I was taking anti-depressants for anxiety. It was no one’s business she would say, and not everyone would be understanding. Continue reading A Hidden Pain: Anxiety & Depression
According to statistics more than 19 million are diagnosed with some form of depressive disorder and the numbers are continuing to grow. African Americans contribute to only 13% of the nation’s population and are over represented in most statistics in regard to most societal ills. Incarceration, HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, mortality rates for heart disease and the mortality rates breast cancer for African American women as well as Mental illness, are societal ills that are affecting the community. Due to the stigma surrounding around Mental Health, African Americans are most often left either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, therefore not receiving adequate care needed to treat their presenting problems. As a result, most in this category may oftentimes endure chronic homelessness, substance abuse issues and a cycle of incarceration due to their mental health issues, becoming increasingly worst in some cases and posing a significant safety risk to self and others. Moreover, mental health related issues are masked by physical health issues such as: diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, stoke and obesity from depression related overeating which African Americans continue to be plagued with in very high numbers. However, many African Americans, like the rest of the population, most times, rather treat their physiological issues due to society’s acceptance of physical health versus mental health issues, which we have all continually witnessed the tragic ramification of mass shootings due to unaddressed mental health issues.
This continues to lead to circular and unresolved discussions about gun laws with the subject of mental health being swept under the rug in the end. Lack of attention to any issue will gives birth to growing misconceptions and myths which we have seen.
Historical Background of Current Stigma of Mental Health in African American Community
Issues contributing to the current myths and misconceptions deter many African Americans from seeking mental health treatment include, but at not limited to the following:
A) Distrust towards the medical system due to a historical deception of bureaucracy systems
ie. Tuskegee Experiment
B) Racial biases by medical professionals servicing African Americans
C) Lack of insurance and monetary resources to access and receive optimal care
D) Religious Faith beliefs
E) Fear of being labeled as “crazy” by loved ones.
How Myth are Perpetuated
In my years of practice, I’ve often had clients report that they were attending sessions with me in secrecy due to fearing being ostracized by their loved ones Continue reading “The Stigma of Mental Health in the African American Community ~ Leticia Reed, LCSW”
….when there has been mental or emotional trauma there has to be healing and our friends and family cannot heal us and here’s why… Continue reading 3 Reasons the world should NOT be your therapist!
“ I think I’m depressed”
“What makes you say that?”
“Well, I am sad all of the time, I don’t want to do sh*t, and this isn’t like me”
This is a conversation I had with myself a few years ago. Yeah, this was one of those conversations you have in your head, but some of questions you answer out loud. For months I knew something wasn’t right because I’d been feeling down. I’d have periods that I felt OK, but my overall mood for months was sad. Outside of being sad, I just wasn’t feeling like myself. I was irritable, and always tired (more than usual). I would either overeat, or not eat at all and I had difficulty focusing on my job. For months I felt like I couldn’t get a grip on my life and I began to feel the affects. I gained weight, I quit pursuing my Master’s degree, lost my desire to go out with friends and I eventually got fired for my low performance.
What brought on my depression?: The short and simple answer is I was trying to handle all that life was throwing at me on my own. (This is my opinion before therapy) What I learned in therapy was all that I had been through led me to believe certain things about myself. In addition to learning how to ask for help, I had to unlearn a lot of shit, and learn a new way to look at myself and how I responded to life. Continue reading “SPEAK OUT: Christina shares her story about Depression.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”-MLK
Mental health, self-care, and therapy are words that we are seeing almost daily. From the news to social media, the conversation about mental health is increasing, but is it decreasing the stigma? Are we more educated on mental health and mental illness than ever before? The current conversation mental health proves that there is still a lot of work to do.
On February 14, 2018 a former student entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and when he left, 33 people had been shot. On February 15, 2018 news stories began telling the story of the accused gunman and words like “troubled” and “depressed” were used. Those words gave way for many people to blame “mental health issues” for this terrible crime. The accused gunman had never been diagnosed with a mental illness, yet many Americans believe that our mental health system failed the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High that fateful day.
Despite the increased talk about it, despite celebrities opening up about going to therapy and their own diagnosis of mental health conditions, there is still a stigma that mental illness and violence go hand in hand. In reality, most people with a mental illness are not violent. Maybe we need to shift the conversation, get more specific and be more inclusive. Continue reading “3 things that could impact our conversation on Mental Health”
At 13 years old I learned the name of the illness my mother had be dealing with for years. It was written on a court document: paranoid schizophrenia. It would be almost 20 years before I would actually learn more about the illness and would begin to separate my mother from her illness. Over the years I have met many people that have a loved one (parent, sibling, child, spouse, or friend) that had been diagnosed with what is sometimes labeled a “serious mental illness.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “ One in 17 (adults) lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder”. If I had the chance to tell someone what to expect, this is what I would say. (This based off of my experience with my loved one, everyone’s experience will not be the same.)
For those that love someone with a serious mental illness…..
If you love someone that has a serious mental illness I don’t know if anything will fully prepare you for the roller-coaster ride that comes along with loving someone with a serious mental illness. There will be high and lows, good days and bad days. There will be feelings of guilt, anger, helplessness, and sadness. You will begin to enjoy the “simple” moments that you previously took for granted.
You patience will be tested and used up, but you will find more. You may say some hurtful things, hurtful things will be said to you-you will forgive and be forgiven. You will learn about boundaries, but you won’t use them as you should in the beginning. You will become OK with saying “no”, although you will likely feel guilty, say “no” anyway.
Continue reading “A letter….”
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”
I was scrolling social media recently and saw someone’s post about some things they had been going through. The only thing I remember from that post was “I had to protect my happiness.” This stood out to me because as much as we always hear people talk about how to be happy, and where we can find it. When do we discuss protecting and maintaining that happiness, once we have found it? Being able to honestly and wholeheartedly say “I AM HAPPY” can take a lot of work, so knowing how to protect that precious feeling once we have it, is worth discussing. Here are three ways you can protect your happiness no matter where you are in life. Continue reading “Self-Care Tip: Protect your Happiness”
Author Kendra Bell host the podcast “Calming Sense” where she discusses mental health related topics. Kendra reached out to find out more about Speak Away the Stigma and what led Christina Lattimore to become a Mental Health Advocate. Check out Calming Sense and find out more about Christina, how mental illness has impacted her family and the future plans for Speak Away the Stigma. Kendra’s … Continue reading The Founder of Speak Away the Stigma shares her story