Mental Health Advocacy as a Black Woman

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I am writer, a blogger, a black woman, and a mental health advocate. Some people may be taken a back at the end of that sentence. Some wonder, do black people even suffer from mental health issues? Well yes indeed, mental illness exists amongst black people. In fact, “according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.” (Nami.org)

One of the most common mental illness that black people experience can be depression. I for one have suffered with depression for about 3 years. It took a lot of strength to ask for help and to advocate for myself. However, I faced a great amount of stigma when doing so, most from our black community. I heard things like, “black people don’t get depressed” and “that exist only amongst Caucasian people.”

It was very discouraging and invalidating to hear those things. There was some time spent understanding that what I was feeling was valid. Depression and any mental illness can affect people of color. The sooner we acknowledge this, the more people will come forward and seek help.

-By Ayanna Bates: Author, writer, blogger, motivational speaker from NY

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