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Taking a closer look at barriers to mental healthcare for Black Americans

Barriers can prevent people in the Black community from getting help, but it’s important to break the stigma and focus on mental health. Sponsored by Premera.

Facing racism, discrimination, and inequity has a significant impact on mental health for Black Americans. But only 1 in 3 Black adults who report needing mental healthcare actually receive it.

There are many barriers to mental healthcare for the Black community, including socioeconomic disparities, stigma, reluctance to show emotions, and religious beliefs. 

“If we talk about a subject or show any kind of emotion around what we’re going through, we’re labeled as being weak,” said Richard Taylor Jr., Seattle author and mental health advocate.

Another barrier is fewer Black mental health professionals in the field, which leads to a lack of appointment availability.

“Barriers combined, essentially what they do is they put us in this position where we feel hopeless,” Taylor said. 

Breaking the stigma and putting an emphasis on mental health is important for overall health. 

“We need to be able to do the same thing we would do with our physical health, which is make investments into it,” Taylor said. 

Taylor suggests being proactive, rather than reactive, with mental health. Determine ways to invest in your mental health and get help if you need it. 

“All it takes is one situation,” Taylor said. “All it takes is one circumstance, and I can find myself, if I’m vulnerable and susceptible, in a position to struggle with anxiety for the first time, find myself dealing with depression or dealing with grief with the loss of family or friends.”

People in the Black community may also be carrying generational trauma that comes from the Black experience in America. This includes historical happenings like slavery, segregation, and the Civil Rights Era. 

“When we see some of the things we see in our society now, I think it almost feels sometimes like it’s a cycle repeating,” Taylor said. 

This can lead to hopelessness that things will never change and anxiety about what situations you may face each day. These feelings can affect your mood and self-identity. 

If you are struggling with mental health, there is help available. Visit the Premera website or the National Alliance on Mental Illness for more information and resources.

RELATED: Are You Okay? | How to take a mental health day

RELATED: UW study finds Black teens less likely to share plans, thoughts before attempting suicide

Sponsored by Premera. Segment Producer Rebecca Perry. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5 and streaming live on KING5.com. Contact New Day.   

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