Mental Illness: Stigma Among Black Men

 At the age of 12, former NBA player Thabiti Boone witnessed his severely depressed mother attempt suicide when she jumped from a six-story building and landed at his feet.

“When she was jumping off the roof, I took in all of the depression that caused her to jump,” says Boone, describing the incident in a public service video sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He said that although he felt as if everyone was waiting for him to “break down” mentally, no one sat down and talked with him about how he was feeling.

Too often, Boone’s experience is echoed in the African American community when it comes to talking about mental health. Mental illness is brushed under the carpet, ignored, or stigmatized.

It turns out that black men in general do not get treatment for mental illness at the same rate as other sufferers, though their rates of mental illness are just as high. What is in play there? Whose attitudes count in that equation, the patients’ or the system’s – or possibly both?While 58.7% of Americans with serious mental illness received care in 2008, only 44.8% of mentally ill blacks received services, according to SAMHSA’s 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

But a new campaign by SAMHSA is designed to raise awareness of mental health problems among young adults in the African American community hopes to get more people talking about the issue — and ultimately getting the help they need.

The ads will encourage and educate young adults to step up and talk openly about mental health problems, and that they are not alone in their struggle. The television, radio, print, and Web ads feature real personal stories of African Americans dealing with mental health problems, and they aim to engage those in the community to support young adults who need help.

To read more click here. Also, check out the many black celebrity men who have been diagnose with mental illness.

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