Depression in Black Men

Depression is a disorder that is treatable. That is an important thing to keep in mind. People can bounce back from it. One of the biggest issues with depression is the lack of talking about it. Around 16 million people deal with depression in America. Studies suggest that an equal percentage – 12 percent – of black males and white males suffer from depression. The real difference is in treatment. Fewer blacks are being treated. While only one-third of all Americans with a mental illness receive care, less than half that number of African-Americans receive mental health treatment.

Depression can bring on feelings of worthlessness, sadness and hopelessness that tends a way to get clogged his brain. Some think, in comparison, death seems soothing.

Men who suffer from depression may think suicide is the answer. It is not. Men that become suicidal don’t realise that they are repeating the cycle, burdening their children with the same loneliness the father had endured. Their kids would grow up with the knowledge that their father had taken his life. Depression can be very paralyzing to African Americans.

This vile illness affects men from all walks of life, and as I’ve said before depression strikes everyone – from the black executive to the young street hustler. In many documented cases, several socially advanced black men suffered from depression for many year and refused to receive treatment. There is a very disturbing undercurrent: If an accomplished, highly informed black man refused to seek treatment for depression, how difficult is it for uneducated or poor black men to seek help?

As we come to the end of Black History Month, some mental health experts who work with black males suggest that these questions deserve greater study and discussion.

Some experts believe that depression is likely a key factor in a 233 percent increase in suicide in black males ages 10-14 from 1980 to 1995.

“Black men feel that they have to be twice as good as other people, that you can’t be weak because other people will take advantage of you,” said Dr. David Satcher, former U.S. surgeon general in a phone interview last week. Satcher oversaw the 1999 surgeon general’s report on mental health in the United States. “Those [pressures] work powerfully against a black male seeking treatment for depression and other mental illnesses.”

And about one in four African-Americans is uninsured, compared with about 16 percent of the U.S. population overall. African-Americans are less likely to receive antidepressants, and when they do, they are more likely than whites to stop taking them.

Particularly troubling to those who study and treat mental illness in black men is their disproportionately higher rates of incarceration than other racial groups. Nearly half the male U.S. prison population is black, and about 40 percent of those in the juvenile justice system are black. About 12 percent of the U.S. population is black.

It’s a very difficult and very serious situation for these young men and for society. Psychiatrists who work with Atlanta’s homeless and black youth said they see dozens of black males each year head to jail or juvenile justice when they should be in treatment centers. They blame in some form or another, depression.

“It happens all the time, and it’s very alarming,” said Dr. Raymond J. Kotwicki, medical director of community outreach programs, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, at Emory University School of Medicine.

While all mental illnesses come wrapped in stigma, mental illnesses in black men are even more entangled. Historical racism and current cultural biases and expectations all play a part, mental health advocates said.

Nearly two-thirds of African-Americans believe mental illness is a shortcoming that can be overcome through prayer and faith, according to a studyby the National Alliance for the Mentally Il.

The neglect of emotional disorders among men in the black community is nothing less than racial suicide. Many experts argues that the problem of depression in black America can be traced back to the time of slavery, when it was believed that blacks were unable to feel inner pain because they had no psyche. This myth has damaged generations of African American men and their families, creating a society that blames black men for being violent and aggressive without considering that depression might be a root cause

If you have any thoughts on the subject, I’d love to hear them.