Taboo: Mental Health amongst the African American Community

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Why is it forbidden to speak of mental health within the African American community? As an individual who has a career in social services, I am able to interact with beautiful people every day from every walk of life. What I have observed while in my career is the level of sensitivity that those in the African American community have toward issues revolving around mental health illness.

Caucasians are more likely to seek assistance or have a conversation about the changes in their behavioral pattern such as how they think, act, feel, handle stress, relating to other and making choices. Many have consulted their doctor which results in medication to be subscribed to treat their mental illness or spoken with a therapist. Within the African American community, a majority, have chosen to suffer in silence due to media portraying mental health illness as some sort of demon that could be prayed off; or even, shrug off for that individual is having a bad day and giving the individual time to be left alone. Mental health is a serious concern within our community and it needs to be addressed!

Please note that there are various factors that contribute to mental health issues such as biological factors and life experiences. Unclear whether you or someone you know have mental health issues that need to be addressed? Experiencing one or more feelings/behaviors may indicate early warning signs:

*suicidal thoughts SUICIDE HOTLINE NUMBER 1-800-273-8255

*inability to perform daily tasks

*hearing voices

*disengaging in activities with others

*continuous thoughts of a traumatic life experience

*having little or no energy

*feeling inadequate or unimportant

*eating or sleeping too much or too little

The fact of the matter is, there are various signs or symptoms that lead to mental health issues that should not be ignored, children battle mental health issues as well that then follow them into adulthood. We need to inform our people that conversations involving taboo topics such as mental health need to be conducted for the prosperity of our culture. Let’s educate each other!

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5 Ways to live your best life

  1. Know yourself

As cliché as this may sound, knowing thy self is a very important aspect of one’s life. Self-knowledge just does not stop at the basics—one’s likes and dislikes. It’s about knowing who you truly are as a person. Make sure that you seek at least a couple of hours out of the day to get to know yourself. We are human, we change daily and that’s why spending hours at a time a day is so important. The more you know about yourself, the easier it will be to love yourself.

  1. Have no expectations on life

The only way that you’ll be able to enjoy life to the fullest, is by simply not putting expectations on how your life should be. Learn how to go with the flow day by day. I can honestly say, that after 26 years on this earth, I have learned that nothing goes as planned and at this point, I can honestly say I’m okay with that. I cannot get upset, throw temper-tantrums because something does not go my way. At this point of my life, I’ve learned to smile, improvise and make use of my time on this earth.

  1. Practice being grateful

To feel or show an appreciation of kindness, thankful is the definition of grateful. We often times are more susceptible to show an attitude of ungratefulness towards any and everything, depending on our moods. Let’s focus on not getting caught up in our own sense of entitlement. Be sure to always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, give compliments freely, do things for others without expecting anything in return. Showing acts of kindness will take you a long way in life and will also make one feel better about themselves.

  1. Acknowledge your past

It’s always easier to practice what you preach. But this nugget has been one that I continuously struggle with each day.

Acknowledge your past, the good-the bad and the ugly! Without acknowledging your past, you carry it over into your present which will hinder your growth and decrease blessings. Learn from your past, heal from your past and be ready to receive all that God has waiting on you. The first initial stage in constructing your best life is to get rid of everything that you no longer want.

  1. Slow down and just enjoy life

We are all guilty of this, we all get caught up in the meaningless hustle and bustle of today’s world. We have reached the point where we are too busy for our families, friends and relationships but we always have time for social media, gossip and work. At the end of the day, we must take the time out of our busy lives to interact with each other for the simple fact, we need to have fun and enjoy life. We need to disconnect from our lives to reconnect with the ones who mean the most to us. Stop trying to capture every minute you spend with someone..to post about it on social media. Enjoy the time that you’re given.

Your life only gets better when you do better. Work on yourself and the rest will surely follow!