Mental health in the Black community has been a taboo topic for far too long. Unfortunately, the topic often only re-surfaces upon news of a celebrity in distress or worse. Kid Cudi recently announced that he checked himself into rehab for depression. It is commendable that he has made his commitment to get well public – According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. But so often, we choose to suffer in silence.
Rapper Joyner Lucas also reminds us that the battle of depression is often overlooked until it’s too late. “I’m Sorry” brilliantly takes listeners on a ride through the minds and perspectives of two men, one, Lucas’ late friend as he pens a goodbye letter to family and friends and subsequently takes his own life; the other man is Lucas, who is left to deal with his friend’s death, presenting a verse filled with unanswered questions and raw emotion.
The sociopolitical climate of today and of the past serve as constant reminders that the Black experience experience tows a weight that the majority will never understand. Our experience is like a never-ending super-set – a mix of endurance and brute strength, a recipe for fatigue, muscle failure, over-training and injury. But with callused hands, we take a deep breath and grip barbells loaded with plates of constant strife and do another set; not yet having recovered from the last Black body lying in the street. So, we do what we’ve always done; we use what we have. We throw “stones,” hoping the giant of white supremacy will fall, but our stones often fall on impenetrable shields, making little if any visible impact. Aside from the one or two days a week when we visit our safe havens – the church, mosque, barbershop or hair salon – very few places will affirm that we matter.
Most gyms display signs that read something along the lines of “Spotter Required for Heavy Lifts.” We have to spot each other and be quick to help one another like at the gym when we see someone struggling to raise the barbell from their chest. We also have to accept that faith without works can only do so much. Sometimes an answer to our prayers is the plethora of mental health professionals that exist. And sometimes our faith in that “this too shall pass” requires effort on our part as individuals and as friends and family.
So when you see a friend going through troubling times or facing an uphill battle with depression or low self-esteem – it’s okay to get in their business and offer to spot them and ask if they need a lift off.
For more on how you or someone you know can access affordable or no-cost service check out 81 Awesome Mental Health Resources When You Can’t Afford a Therapist