“I’m not crazy! I do not need to go see someone! I don’t need pills!” Sistas, how many times have you yourself uttered those phrases or heard another females say them? In the urban community we sarcastically joke with the phrase “such and such is crazy”. That person may truly have a need for psychiatric care or even counseling but the idea of actually going to see a psychiatrist is taboo in the hood. In fact some people would rather their mind fade away into oblivion then to have to reveal their thoughts, and or emotional issues. Not only does it make you appear to be weak but there also is a strong distrust for the White mental health community.
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University recruited women, who were 18 or older and considered themselves African-American, scored 15 or higher on the Patient Health Questionnaire Depression scale, and reported intimate partner violence at some time in their lives.
Thirty women participated in four private focus groups facilitated by African-American female community members of the research team. The results are published online in the American Journal of Public Health. Study participants were asked about their experiences and beliefs surrounding the relationship between violence and health in general, mental health, depression, and depression treatments. They also were asked to discuss their recommendations for improving depression care. The researchers found one issue dominated discussions about depression care — the participants’ deep mistrust of what they perceived to be a “White” health care system.
These results are not surprising. I can think of at least three sistas in my life right now who at some point should have sought some sort of counseling or therapy. Black women have been misguided into thinking that this is about not allowing someone to pump you full of “crazy” pills or take all of their money. This is about your well being and mental stability. Not only that, sometimes, everyone needs someone to talk to. Sometimes, you need help with being able to cope with your emotions.
Black women enter this world with burdens that their White counterpart does not have or may never experience. Yet, it is perfectly acceptable for a White woman to seek out counseling or mental health help if she feels she needs it. She is not seen as weak, loopy or crazy. The veil of perceived ultimate strength that has blanketed Black women for years comes with a double edged sword. Yes, it keeps us centered, and focused. It allows us to be the pillar of strength for those around us. It also keeps us sick, with high blood pressure from stress, not eating right, and anxiety. At some point there has to be a balance. There has to be a release for the Black woman. When will we learn that bottling up emotions, fears, anxieties, etc is not healthy? When will the walls of distrust for the medical community crash down so that the Black community as a whole can get the medical attention that they desire and deserve? Saying that you are not crazy does not take away from the fact that you may need psychiatric attention. Seeking help does not make you crazy. I’m not promoting Black women popping pills. I am promoting Black women getting help, if there is a need for it.
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