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Written by: Dr. As a mental health educator, counsellor, consultant, and researcher, I have spent the last 18 years of my life learning, researching, and teaching about mental health and wellness within culturally and linguistically diverse communities CALD as well as with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour BIPOC.


Is seeking help the last taboo of mental health?

By: Alia Hoyt. Mental health issues carry a stigma seen across cultures and groups, but few if any bear the burden more than the black community. In the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast episode " Mental Health in Black Communities ," Emilie Aries and Bridget Todd a proud, therapy-going black woman herself tackle why this stigma exists, who it particularly affects and the far-reaching consequences of not getting help.

For many African-Americans, seeking help for mental health issues is virtually unheard of, even though they are 20 percent more likely to experience serious psychological distress than whites.

Is seeking help the last taboo of mental health?

A study from the American Psychological Association found that young adult African-Americans, especially those with higher levels of education, are less likely than their white counterparts to seek mental health services. This tendency to "do it all with a brave face and never let them see you sweat" was common then and persists today.

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And issues surrounding slavery's legacy may affect the mental health of future generations. Emilie points to research of Holocaust survivors and their offspring which showed that there is potential for trauma to be internalized and imprinted onto DNA, and possibly passed on to future generations.

This phenomenon is called epigenetic inheritance.

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The status of the mental health industry as being for the "white and wealthy" might also deter people of color from seeking help because they aren't confident that a white therapist will understand what they're grappling with in life. So, having options as an individual and seeking out therapists who look like you, feel like you, can understand and empathize with you from a cultural perspective, I'm sure that can lower the barrier for entry," she adds.

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Just 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are black. There's been a slow shift in progress, with many black artists and public figures — like Issa Rae, Jay-Z and Kid Cudi — using their positions to further minority mental health awareness. We are not seeing political movement around this, which is what there needs to be," Emilie says.

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However, even new policies won't fully solve the problem. To get more information — or the name of a therapist — go to Ourselvesblack. To hear this episode, download " Mental Health in Black Communities.

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Mobile Newsletter chat dots. Mobile Newsletter chat avatar. Mobile Newsletter chat subscribe. Mental Health. Cultural issues against seeking therapy — as well as the low of black psychologists — are some of the reasons African-Americans are less likely than white Americans to get mental help.

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Now That's Sad. Cite This! More Awesome Stuff.

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The intervention was launched with a national suicide prevention awareness campaign.


Trigger warning: The below includes mentions of suicide and a few descriptive examples of what the author experienced while living with someone who struggled with untreated mental illness.