Iyanla Vanzant has a message for African-Americans as it relates to mental health. Stop hiding. The teacher, educator and healer who is the host of “Iyanla, Fix My Life” on the OWN Network says that in order to fix what is happening you have to be able to acknowledge and name it.
When it comes to mental health, Vanzant told the Tom Joyner Morning Show that many in the African-American community choose to hide and stigmatize family members or friends who are struggling. And if they are the person with a mental health disorder, instead of seeking treatment, they will often suffer in silence.
“Coming up in this country the way we did, when someone had mental health issues it was considered a stigma. Those people were punished and shunned and cast off and somehow or another we’ve never corrected that. And we continue to do it. We either act like it doesn’t exist or we go into shame and fear and guilt. Neither is necessary.”
Vanzant says our legacy as enslaved people who continue to deal with racism even now, has a significant impact on how we deal with mental health issues as a community. Just about everyone can point to someone in their family with mental health issues – from the uncle hidden in the back room (as dramatized in the movie “Soul Food”) to a cousin or sibling.
“For people who already less than, limited and oppressed, it’s a lot to say there is something going on that we can’t control,” Vanzant says. “We’ve got to start looking at this as an opportunity for us to pull everyone up. So we can stop hiding the uncle and telling stories about the uncle and wondering if we have what he has.”
The key to achieving mental health is to stop hiding and seek answers and treatment. Many common mental health disorders – from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia run in families so it’s important everyone to find out what the specific issue is so that it can be identified and dealt with.
“We need to understand because there is a mental health issue it doesn’t make you defective, it doesn’t make you less than it doesn’t make you anyway a shame based individual. It could be physiological – it good be something in the body that’s affecting the mind. It could be ancestral. It could be a memory. It could be all sorts of reasons. When we know there is a mental health let’s get a name, let’s see what we call it, let’s see where it came from. That’s so important.”
Vanzant kicks off a new season of “Iyanla, Fix My Life” with former NFL star Terrell Owens on Saturday, November 2 at 9 p.m. “T.O. – what a powerful story,” Vanzant says. “I salute him for coming forward.”
Resources for those struggling with or interested in more information about African-Americans and mental health:
The main types of mental disorders.
Black mental health information
Depression and African-Americans
Panel Discussion on African-Americans and Mental Health
National Association On Mental Illness Fact Sheet on African-American Mental Health
Mental Health in the Black Community
Why African-Americans Struggle to Get Help for Mental Disorders
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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