The headline was stretched across the top of The Washington Post last week: Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness.
While no major studies have documented it by the numbers, therapists told the newspaper that they increasingly had begun to see more black patients in their practices.
“I’ve seen an increasing number of African Americans who feel increasingly less stigmatized about coming in and seeking therapy and who also recognize the healing power of therapy,” said Jeffrey Gardere, a psychologist in private practice and assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York City, told The Post.
Gardere said that in the past 10 years he had seen an increase of 20 to 25 percent in the number of black Americans seeking help.
It has been a long time coming.
“People kind of expect, ‘Gee, you should pull yourself up by your bootstraps, get yourself together, there’s nothing wrong with you,” said Annelle Primm, deputy medical director of the American Psychiatric Association and director of its office of minority and national affairs told The Washington Post in the story, which ran last week.
“We were always taught: ‘Don’t put your business in the street. Don’t put your family’s issues out in front of strangers.”
With that kind of pressure from family and, often, exhortations from the church that counseling with the pastor and greater spiritual devotion was all that was needed, many African Americans have struggled with depression and other mental illnesses that could have been managed with clinical therapy and monitored medication.
Major light was shed on the subject by the late Bebe Moore Campbell.
Campbell, an accomplished author and advocate, received NAMI’s 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature for the book “Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry,” written especially for children, about a young girl who learns how to cope with her mother’s bipolar illness.
In 2005, her novel “72-Hour Hold” focused on an adult daughter and a family’s experience with the onset of mental illness. It helped educate Americans that the struggle often is not just with the illness, but with the healthcare system as well.
Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals with mental illness and their families of diverse communities. She also co-founded the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI) Urban Los Angeles.
Following her death from brain cancer in November 2006, NAMI National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, a group of friends got together and began to work on making Campbell’s wish to remove the stigma associated with mental illness and to provide greater education to the broader community.
The group worked with several members of Congress and in May 2008, the House of Representatives passed a bill declaring July “Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.”
Dr. Primm has made a substantial contribution to getting rid of the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health issues.
A nationally recognized expert on cultural psychiatry and co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders, Primm has lectured and written widely on these topics, including two books, “Black and Blue: Depression in the African American Community” and “Gray and Blue: Depression in Older Adults.”
Primm has also organized collaborations of health care practitioners and community health advocates to eliminate disparities in health, mental health, and substance use disorder care and she is a co-founder of All Healers Mental Health Alliance, a multidisciplinary organization, which provides culturally competent responses to the mental health needs of underserved communities affected by disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
“Many African Americans have gone without needed care,” Primm told The Post, “and when they have sought care it has been at the crisis stage, which is not optimal.”
Click here for answers to your “Get Well Wednesday” questions.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 30
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30