mental health in the black community - black milk women


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Having mental illness in the black community is viewed to be a "white people thing". Frequently, the black community depreciated anybody mentally ill as being childish, not mighty enough and mostly attention-seeking. The black community, individually, these people need support. If black lives matter, so does our mental health. It is not a "white people thing". As strong as we are, as strong as we have to be; mental pain is real, and it matters too. 

Here is an up-to-date chat with some individuals about their backgrounds and insights on  mental illness in the black community and what they have to share: 



A necessary hardship

"Speaking of mental illness itself is a hardship because it still leaves traces of stigma around the appointee. Speaking of mental illness in the black community is twice more complicated. 

By historically, mental illness is difficult to assess in the black community because of its former connotation. Mental illnesses were theorized as a mean to incarcerate and institutionalize black men, hence the initial problem. How can we assess mental illness in the community when it is virtually non-existent or unspoken? As the conversation was dispersed from the community in order to empower itself, we were left behind on the newly emerging conversation. If the conversation is non-existent in the community, how can we assess mental illness in our community? If we cannot assess mental illness in our community, how can we encourage those with mental illness to come forward? If we cannot inspire those with mental illness to come forth, how will we help them? If we cannot help those with mental illness in our community, how will we prosper? Speaking of mental illness in the black community is a hardship, but how can we avoid it?" 

- Alexandre Vachon

Our mental illness is not who we are

"I suffered from clinical depression, as long as I could remember. At the early stages of my teenage years, I think in middle school when I was 13. It was extremely painful. Every day I was at war with myself because I was battling with my heart and it was like hell! Due to people ripping my heart apart whenever they wanted to. It drove me to the point of me
feeling like of separating myself and I am better off without them because I was being mistreated of my own kindness and for my well being. I was being bullied, I had to fight for my life just to see another day. They left me frightened, mentally and physically because they made me feel like I wasn't good enough, they made me feel like I wasn't human but invisible to the world in which caused me to be alone and depressed with no one to talk to, in school. No one to share waves of laughter with. No one to share the same common interests with. Although I had relatives and siblings, I never told them about what I was going through. They wouldn't believe that a black teenager was suffering from depression because it's uncommon for a black parent to hear their own child going through depression so they would easily disregard and take it as a joke. That made it, even more, harder for me to push through middle school all the way into high school. 

I think the majority of black men and women living in America that also have severe mental illnesses are highly ignored by the masses and the media. We are strong individuals but the stigma about black men and women to be “strong" all the time is wrong. Some of us need a
helping hand whenever we’re down and out. Some of us need guidance through the dark tunnels in order to see the sun. We need to be loved when no one isn't showing any. To my fellow brothers and sisters that are undergoing mental issues and can't seem to escape from dark places of calamity, you're loved. You're never alone, never change who you are
because you will lose yourself in the process. Always love yourself for who you are and know that you're worth more than anyone telling you aren't. Be emotionally, spiritually, and physically capable of being completely you. Never be afraid to leave someone just because you’re afraid you’re not going to find somebody else. All of us can fight through this because our mental illness doesn't dictate our character." 

-Eldridge D. 

It does not exist 

''I believe that if you pray, it will go away. It's as simple. People who believe in God does not suffer mentally. It does not exist."

-Signed anonymously

My family is very supportive

"I am aware of the effect it has on my culture. It's either you're an attention seeker or crazy. It's disgusting to hear those thoughts but my family is very supportive, I am lucky. We need to do better, there's a lot that we need to work on and this is one of them. It's bigger than just looking for attention, you know? It's bigger than praying God or whoever you believe in. It's not that simple than just pray." 


It's hard to believe

" I don't really pay attention to that. I don't know any in real who have it, except celebrities. It doesn't affect me as selfish as it sounds. I do hope if it's that they get better. Nobody should suffer." 

-Nick C. 

It's called voodoo in the Haitian culture

"I know for a fact that in my Haitian culture, it's called voodoo or it is influenced by it. My peers and some of my family members don't believe in mental illness. My family thinks it's because that has some ''loi'' (bad spirit) so they often say to get away from that by going to church or medications. I try to tell them differently but some people are ignorant and there's
nothing to do about it, especially the older they are." 

-Signed anonymously

It's a sensitive subject to talk about

"Mental Illness in the black community is a sensitive subject to speak about. Working at the hospital Louis H Lafontaine, 80% of the patients are Caucasian and some of the other 20% are black. Some people seem to be ashamed of the condition in which they are to the point that they can't speak to their peers. Little do we know that it is uncontrollable and sometimes unreversed. Getting support from our families is essential because they could help prevent any deterioration. Communication and compassion and especially respect must be shown towards people that are prone to mental Illnesses." 

-Signed anonymously


Photo: @imanigivertz 

Jennifer Mesidor is a 23 years old editor from Montreal, Canada. She writes when she is not editing. If she is not at the library, you can find her at the nearest pasta restaurant or the movies.

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