It’s OK To Seek Help is an initiative launched by Live From The Treehouse to destigmatize the negative connotations around black men for seeking help for mental health issues. It is born out of the desire to let black men who may be or who are dealing with them to understand that it is OK to receive help.
It is particularly geared towards the African American Male community. Statistics show that African Americans are 20% more likely to experience major mental health issues including but not limited to: depression, ADHD, PTSD, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Bipolar Disorder and suicidal thoughts.
Contrary to popular belief African Americans are more likely than those of other races to believe that mental health professionals can help people with mental issues but they are also least likely to seek help. So even though African Americans suffer from mental health issues at a higher rate and believe that seeking treatment can be a good thing why don’t we go?
Let's take a look at some common reasons that black men might not seek professional help.
It is weak to seek help: Unfortunately, Many black men believe that if they seek help that they are less of a man. This leads us to not talk about the issue or if they do they often do not follow through with. We will try to hide the issue from others and even ourselves. It is not weak to seek help. In fact, it is the strong thing to do. When you start a new job your new boss usually tells you to seek help from them or a coworker if you need it. If you want to be successful at your job you will ask for help if you need. It is the same concept with mental health issues. If you need help seek the help you need.
I can self-medicate: As men, we believe that we can get through our issues by ourselves. We often tell ourselves that the problem is a one-time issue so they can just ignore it and it will go away. Some treatment options that people turn to when dealing with mental health issues on their own are alcohol and other drugs. This can cause a host of other problems to deal with in addition to the mental health issue that needs to be addressed.
My religion is all I need: While your belief system can play a strong role in your treatment of and recovery from mental health issues it is should not be the only course of action.
The bible states that we need to get help when needed. It is the wise thing to do. While church, family, and friends can and should be a support system they are not mental health professionals. As much as they can try to empathize with you, it is still important to seek professional help. Non-professionals can be limited in how they can properly support you.
Mistrust of doctors: This is a very valid concern. Study after study has shown that blacks are often underdiagnosed and given fewer treatment options than other races. Furthermore, African Americans have been used as guinea pigs for some outright brutal experiments. This has created an understandable mistrust of doctors.
I deserve what is happening to me: You do not deserve to suffer. Some people believe that they get what they deserve because of something they did or said. I will repeat you do not deserve to suffer. No one deserves to leave a mental health issue untreated. No one. You have every right to enjoy life without having to deal with a mental health issue on your own. As black men, there is already so much that we undeservedly have to go through, please do not let a mental health issue be something that you try to bear. Get the help that you need.
When we break a bone or start to feel sick we have no problem going to the hospital or getting medicine from a drug store. It is the same thing principle with mental health issues. We have to begin to hold our mental and emotional health in the same regard that we hold our physical health. Mental Health Issues are not something to take lightly. We must be intentional in our efforts to get the help that we need.
If you or a loved one are dealing with mental health issue please visit https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml to find resources in your area.