At the beginning of October, Kid Cudi bravely posted on Facebook about seeking treatment for his depression and anxiety.
He shared that it was hard to find the right words to describe his pain because he was ashamed of his feelings. Cudi isn’t the only African American man who found it challenging to face and admit his mental health status. His public announcement started a critical conversation about the mental health of African American men with the hashtag #YouGoodMan, and provided a space for African American men to talk about their mental health struggles.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 18.6% of African Americans report living with a mental health condition. Of that number, only 16.9% reported seeking mental health treatment.
There are several reasons why African American men don’t typically seek help for their mental health issues.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, African Americans are often mistreated and misdiagnosed when they seek medical help. Even with symptoms similar to those of their Caucasian cohorts, people of color can be misdiagnosed with more serious psychological conditions. There have also been studies that show African American men are often socialized or grow up in homes where masculinity is emphasized, and men are not encouraged to talk about their feelings or emotions. This shows how mental health stigma can contribute to whether or not someone seeks treatment.
Another issue is the lack of African American therapists available. For some individuals, it’s important to have a health specialist that looks like them and may be able to better understand their life experiences.
In light of Minority Mental Health Month, we would like to remind everyone that mental illness does not discriminate and certain ethnic groups are less likely to get help. Encourage your family, friends and loved ones to engage in dialogue to improve mental health treatment for all.
Read more about African American men’s mental health during Minority Mental Health month from the Huffington Post.