Mental health is about how you, as an individual, feel about yourself. Mental health is not the absence of mental ill-health, but it is the overall sense of how you think, feel, behave and relate with other people. Therefore, mental illness is an abnormality in the way an individual might think, feel and relate with others.
The statistics surrounding mental illness in the Black and Asian community has changed very little in 20 years. In fact, the statistics has shown that being a Black or Asian man or woman means that we will have to fight ten times harder to maintain our mental health than our white counterparts.
The mental health foundation has found that Black and Asian individuals are:
- More likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems
- More likely to be diagnosed and admitted to hospital
- More likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment
- More likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.
I don’t know about you, but these statistics sadden me. It shows that mental health is a social issue that does not seem as though it will not be resolved anytime soon if changes are not drastically made.
There are many topics in the Black community that are rarely discussed or broached; mental health and ill-health being one of them. However, in the last five to ten years, this has been slowly changing due to social media, celebrities and social media influencers openly talking about their own mental health journey.
However, not enough has been done to normalise this as an everyday discussion from childhood to adulthood.
There are several reasons that the topic of mental health is seldom talked about or understood:
- The negative stigma around having a mental disorder.
- Misunderstanding of mental health and ill-health.
- Misappropriation of religious doctrine on causes of mental disorder.
- Masking pain to be “strong” woman or “man up” for men
- Black people come to services too late, when they are already in crisis.
- Distrust of mental health services due to institutional racism and unconscious bias.
- Black people often see that engaging with mental health services as a degrading and alienating experience, the last resort.
I think that one way to improve Black mental health is to start an open and transparent conversation between both, Black users and providers of services and ask: what are the issues that need to be resolved, how can we begin to take the steps to resolve them and what solutions can we create and implement?
I believe there is a significant need for mental health services to be culturally sensitive. This is why Frontline Therapist was started to be a mental health platform supporting individuals on their journey to mental health wellness.
We do this in two ways:
- Offering affordable and accessible mental health counselling
- Mental health-friendly products in the form of eBooks, eCourses and Planners