Black people need love too

The media and its lack of effort to help us conquer mental illness

Black people are less likely than white people to get help for mental illness. One quarter of black people will seek help for their mental illness, compared to 40% of white people who will agree to get help, says National Alliance on Mental Health. In a black household, getting help for mental illness is a sign of weakness. Minimal black people will step up and admit to having a problem and tacking the steps to help themselves. Besides the barriers of poverty and racism, black people also face cultural biases against treatment. According to Let’s Erase The Stigma, 40% of black people are in denial that they have a mental illness. So, the same amount of white people that are going to get help, is the same number of black people that are not admitting to having the problem to begin with. Mental illness is like an emotion to some people in the black community, something you can shake off. Mental illness is the opposite of something that you can shake off, it’s a health issue. Mental illness can transform your way of thinking, behaving, and your emotions. So many people in the black community are struggling with dealing with suicide, depression, bipolar, and post traumatic stress disorder. Unlike 40% of white people, we do not seek help, we handle it in our own way. We suppress our illness in alcohol consumption, weed passing, and denial.

We need help dealing with mental illness the same way the white community is getting help, through the media. The masses have a wonderful way of grasping the attention of the people, and making them support, believe, or act on whatever they say is important. In fact, that is the definition of the Agenda Setting Theory. This theory states that the media controls and presents what is considered important to them and serves it to the audience. As far as Hollywood, there are prominent movies that tackle the black community, mental illness, and their struggle. Radio, Precious, The Soloist, and Fences all target the black community and mental illness. As far as commercials and campaigns, black people are not targeted to receive help for mental illness. Can you name 3 companies or products that target the black community in getting help for mental illness? There is no one with brown skin that is the face for us to get help. Singer Demi Lovato has bipolar disorder and is the heath ambassador for Global Citizen. It is no secret that the famous person appeal in advertising works well. Jay Z and Diddy worked hard to campaign for Barack Obama, Queen Latifah and Janelle Monae are the brand ambassadors for Cover Girl, Vince Staples works with Sprite, The Gap recently released a video of Future and Cher promoting their brand. Why can’t we promote the same energy with mental healthiness commercials and campaign adds? Rapper, Logic and singer, Alessia Cara performed their song 1–800–273–8255 during the VMA’s in urging people to use the suicide prevention hotline, and their hotline calls skyrocketed by 50% after that performance. It works.

Let’s End the Stigma explains that distrust is one of the reasons why black people seek treatment. “African Americans have been and continue to be negatively affected by the prejudice and discrimination . . . misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment, and lack of cultural competence.” The black community does not have a familiar face or person they can trust to reach out and push them. Seeing someone that looks like you and go through the same struggles as you, show’s relatability. There are several black influencers that shared their struggles with depression and bipolar disorder. These people could be the face of mental illness. Music artists like DMX, Michelle Williams, Kehlani, Kid Cudi, and Kanye West put their share through press and their music.

Aside from black celebrities, a brown face would be great to see for the face of mental illness. Mental Health America shared that 6.8 million of black people has had a diagnosable mental illness. We make up over 13% of the United States and over 16% has a mental illness. Those numbers are saddening, especially because almost half us will not seek help. The media should help us just like they do with cigarette smokers with Truth or addicts with The Addiction Network commercial. The media should use their power to help that 16% just like they do to get the 40% to get help. Black health matters.