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 (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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