Family Mental Wellness Newsletter

Black Mental Health Matters

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Celebrating Black History Month!

Maya Angelou once wrote, "It cannot be denied. It will not be contained. And only I will define it. For when I look in the mirror, my very soul cries out, My Black is Beautiful."


As we move into February, let us honor the voices of our past by recognizing and celebrating the importance of Black History Month.


Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African-Americans and a time to recognize their central role in U.S. history. Black History Month is also known as African-American History month which was birthed out of "Negro History Week." Carter Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), sent out a press release from Chicago announcing the First Negro History Week in 1926. This marked the indoctrination of this national recognition. President Gerald Ford was the first U.S. president which recognized Black History Month in 1976. Since then every president has issued a proclamation honoring the spirit of Black History Month.


To support Black History Month, the newsletters focus this month will be: black mental health awareness, helping black children build a healthy identity, celebrating black-owned local businesses, honoring black professionals in our community, culture, traditions, and contributions of African Americans.

Black Mental Health Matters: How to cope during a time of social injustice according to experts

From Good morning America

By: Jacqueline Yates

To say this is an exponentially tough time for Black people in America would be an understatement ⁠-- and that's why protecting the mental health of this community is vital.


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The deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and now, Jacob Blake, among countless lives lost at the hands of police brutality -- in addition to simultaneously experiencing a disproportionate rate of deaths from COVID-19 -- have left many people of color fighting through psychological warfare.

During this mental health state of emergency, Black communities are not only protesting, but many are also looking for ways to find peace.

African Americans are 10% more likely to experience serious psychological distress than other races, according to Health and Human Services' Office of Minority Health. Experts agree that these alarming statistics will only increase without elevated access to coping mechanisms.

Self-care is how we take our power back and go farther," Lalah Delia, author of "Vibrate Higher Daily," and a wellness educator, told "GMA."

This is especially true during a time of activism. Delia reflected on how longtime civil rights activists, such as Ericka Huggins and Ruby Sales, have admitted to experiencing burn out in years past.

"They also were moving so fast, and in survival mode, they too burned out without proper care," Delia said.

"This is why pouring into ourselves is vital, especially at this time and in this uprising," she said, adding, "This time, we have wellness awareness and tools to help carry us through."


Mental advocates such as Latham Thomas, who is a doula and founder of wellness platform Mama Glow, as well as psychologist and founder of mental health platform/podcast "Therapy for Black Girls," Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, have also become guiding lights leading the charge in uplifting the spirits of people of color and have provided best practices for surviving through this triggering time.

For starters, Delia advises that it is important to listen to your body and take time to process everything being experienced. "Allowing ourselves time to be still and fully process is how we access our calm mind as well as access higher solutions," she said. "A calm mind is a powerful mind and tool."

"This is vital, especially in times of challenge, chaos, planning, organizing and uprising," she added. "Spend some part of the day centering into your power. Meditations and breathing practicing are great for this."

There are a wide variety of virtual meditations available for free or at very low cost from Liberate, Insight Timer, Calm, Beditations and more.


MORE: 8 apps to support your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

Join a safe space or group therapy

"I really love the idea of coming together," said Thomas. "I think that's a great way for people who haven't necessarily gotten their feet wet in therapy to have access to a free source."

She also mentioned that while the coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult to physically come together due to social distancing practices, many group therapy sessions have been moved online. Therapy for Black Girls is a great place to start. Led by Bradford, this platform offers group-style therapy through Instagram Live and podcasts.

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A Message on Mental Health for Black Mothers

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Black maternal mortality rates had already risen to four to five times higher than that of white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, in addition to the disproportionately rising death tolls of Black people due to coronavirus, studies show this could impact that rate even further.

There are also several mothers that fear for the future lives of their Black children and how they will be viewed in the world.

"This is a hot-button issue, but it's not an issue that's going anywhere," said Thomas.

As someone who is also raising a son, Thomas has embraced the importance of reclaiming joy. "I am centering my son's joy, and that is how I'm moving forward in this time," she said

"I want to talk about joy, I want to talk about what's possible for us, I want to talk about our greatness and our excellence, but I also want to talk about just what it means to reclaim your joy and exist as a Black person in this time," she continued. "That's our birthright."

Breaking historic patterns

"Black people have generationally had to overlook their own emotions, pain, well-being, mental health, and trauma to take care of white people's feelings," said Delia. "We have had to perform this numbed-strong role for so long that we forgot, or perhaps didn't realize, it was necessary to take care of ourselves first and foremost."

Experts advise that now is really the time to pour back into yourself if you haven't done so in the past and make time for yourself paramount.

Additional Black mental health resources to follow on Instagram:

DRK Beauty


This digital community's mission is to celebrate women of color in all of their diversity.

The collective recently partnered with actress Cynthia Erivo and began a fundraising campaign to raise $500,000 to continue its mission of providing mental health resources to women of color.

Additionally, DRK Beauty launched an initiative "DRK Beauty Healing" with an aim to bring 10,000 hours of free therapy to women of color in every state to immediately address the access and attention disparity that women of color face within the mental health space.

Black Girl in Om


This platform was created to give Black women a space to breathe easy, and create a world where women of color are liberated, empowered, and seen.

HealHaus


This wellness concept and cafe offers virtual yoga, meditation, workshops, and private sessions.

Black Female Therapists


Consider this your go-to directory for Black female therapists in addition to being an online community focused on mental health and wellness.

Ethel's Club


This is a welcoming social and wellness club designed to celebrate people of color -- online and in real life.

Balanced Black Girl


Balanced Black Girl is a podcast that highlights wellness from a Black woman's perspective.

OMNoire


OMNoire is a social wellness community for Black women and women of color dedicated to living well.

Mental Health For Black Fathers: Strength Still Needs Support

From www.communityvoices.org

Souls of black men


Mental health is a taboo subject for African American men. In general, there is strong stigma associated with mental health problems and illnesses. Issues related to culture, masculinity, and the socio-political environment keeps men (and others) from tackling problems related to mental health.

Scope of the Problem


More than one in four adults experience a mental health or substance abuse disorder in any given year. Yet only a small percentage of those affected will be properly diagnosed and treated for their disorder. For African American men and their families, the consequences of neglected mental health needs are devastating –


• 7% of African American men will develop depression during their lifetime-this is likely to be an underestimate due to lack of screening and treatment services.


• African American men have death rates that are at least twice as high as those for women for suicide, cirrhosis of the liver, and homicide.


• From 1980 to 1995, the suicide rate for African American male youth (ages 15-19) increased by 146%. Among African American males aged 15-19 years, firearms were used in 72% of suicides, while strangulation was used in 20% of suicides.


• For African American men, especially in urban areas, the abuse of alcohol and its consequences appear more grave when compared to statistics for white men, white women or African American women. Finding care that is affordable, respectful, and accessible is a major challenge for African American men. There is a dearth of providers of color and culturally competent providers. Lack of insurance coverage and inadequate means of financing care often leads men to forego care.


• African Americans account for approximately 12% of the population, but they account for only 2% of psychiatrists, 2% of psychologists and 4% of social workers.


• Only 1/3 of all Americans with a mental disorder get care. The percent of African Americans receiving care is half that of non-Hispanic Whites.


• African Americans are less likely to be treated with medications, especially newer medications that have lesser side effects, than Whites. When they do receive medications, they often receive higher dosages leading to more severe side effects. The cost of mental disorders extends beyond the individual to his family, community and ultimately society. With appropriate outreach and treatment, these financial and non-financial costs are avoidable.


• The burden of mental disorders, specifically depression costs $43 billion annually. Absenteeism and lost productivity in the work place cost $23 billion per year.


• When mental disorders aren’t treated, African American men are more vulnerable to incarceration, homelessness, substance abuse


What’s Behind the Problem


Besides the physical factors that contribute to mental disorders are a host of social factors that create a negative environment for African American men. On a daily basis, the black man has to deal with racism, inequality, and economic oppression while trying to care for himself and his family. Dealing with this harsh reality can lead to increased depression, frustration, low selfesteem, and feelings of hopelessness. This reality must be changed.


• African American men with higher earnings and higher education are less at risk for depression. Black males who report no earnings have increased susceptibility for depression.


• Poverty, racism and the impact of past trauma (particularly violence) are the primary contributing factors to the mental health disorders of young African American men.


• Young blacks are more likely to commit suicide after an altercation or perceived victimization by institutional authorities such as the police, criminal justice system, school officials, landlord or welfare department.


• Among African Americans, especially males, the possibility of "being someone", making a significant contribution to society, and attaining basic respect and self esteem is seldom a reality, predisposing them to suicidal and homicidal acts of destruction. Healing Individuals who are fortunate find a way toward healing and treating their mental disorders. Ultimately, it must become a right of every individual to be able to access the services and care so that he may be able to fulfill his destiny and to be able to contribute fully to his family and his community.


Prevention


Early intervention is critical. Outreach must be tailored specifically for African American men and health education must be delivered by trusted messengers.


• Develop and support mental health promotion/intervention initiatives that are specifically geared to African American males.


• Develop early intervention strategies for men who are vulnerable to environmental and psychosocial factors that predispose them to self-destructive behaviors.


• Suicide prevention efforts should be evidence-based and comprehensive enough to address the complex dynamics of suicidal behaviors. Community and Provider Education/Service Delivery Mental health services that treat African American men with understanding, respect, and dignity are important to ensuring their health. Providing mental health services requires all segments of community to become involved (e.g., faith-based institutions, behavioral health agencies, and the criminal justice system).


• Conduct stigma awareness training at faith institutions, community organizations, and primary care settings.


• Educate providers on the identification, diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues for African American men.


• Support academic-community partnerships that focus on making academic health training and the delivery of health services culturally competent.


• Increase awareness of connections between chronic diseases and mental health. • Improve referral and follow up mechanisms from the criminal justice system to community-based organizations, mental health facilities and substance abuse treatment systems.


• Formal and informal systems of help must be created that will provide Black men with opportunities to congregate and talk over problems they feel they cannot mention to most people.


• Black institutions, community leaders and health professionals must encourage and promote participation and involvement of Black men in both traditional and non-traditional institutional structures, groups and relationships (i.e., churches, family activities, fraternities, health retreats, group therapy, etc) within the African American community that may offer cooperative and self-help approaches to stressful situations.


Policies

In order to improve the health of African American men, the entire community must become more involved in the political process. Policies and programs are developed as a result of public pressures in this society. African American men must make community, state and federal officials aware of their unique mental health issues (e.g. barriers to mental health services) by participating and testifying at public hearings, demanding support from public health agencies and writing to their elected officials and media.


• Community-based prevention efforts targeted towards reducing destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse, must be supported.


• Institutional and individual racism must be recognized and addressed.


• Policies that bring about social justice and promote equity and equality must be supported and enforced to allow African American men (and indeed all individuals) the opportunity to fully care for themselves and their families.


Research


Data and information is needed at both the local and national level so that evidenced-based interventions and treatment can be provided.



• Increase the representation of people of color in the fields of suicidology and epidemiology in order to develop more effective interventions.


• Strengthen the evaluation of mental health promotion projects for appropriateness, impact and effectiveness.


• Give more attention to the expression of mental disorders in African American men in order to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to understand and treat these symptoms.


• Support mentoring initiatives that offer young men, social support, high self esteem and employment/ educational opportunities.


• Fund research to increase our understanding of suicidal behavior among young African American men to develop a more comprehensive profile of those at high risk for early intervention. “We need to get to [reach] more young Black boys before they become men, and help them work through a lot of ‘stuff’ and feelings of isolation.”

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5 Ways All Families Can Celebrate Black History Month!


February is Black History Month – a month dedicated to highlighting and celebrating the important achievements and contributions that Black people have contributed to American history.

In addition to celebrating Black culture, this month is also a great opportunity for families to explore and have conversations about the historical experiences of Black people in America while reminding us that all Americans must shine a light on the injustice African Americans still face in this country.

Everyone can and should participate in the month-long celebration of black culture, especially white families. Because the realities of prejudice and discrimination begin to affect children’s development early, it is developmentally appropriate to address them with young children.

As adults, we have the power to create, to teach, to maintain bias—and to eliminate it. By exploring the stories and rich history of Black people in America, this can equip children with the tools to resist negative messages based on people’s racial identities and/or physical differences.

In a time when cultural tensions are at an all-time high, cultural learning is crucial for children to increase knowledge and empathy in an effort to build bridges across differences. From a mental health perspective, those who have high levels of empathy are more likely to function well in society. Research shows that empathy is vital in building successful interpersonal relationships of all types.

Celebrating Black History Month is the perfect opportunity to expand your children’s awareness of other’s racial differences while encouraging them to be open and respectful of all kinds of people they may encounter.

Here are 5 fun and effective family activities to do with your children this Black History Month:

  1. Read books by African American authors
  2. Watch movies highlighting Black history
  3. Attend Black History Month events in your community
  4. Cook an African-American recipe at home or attend a Black-owned restaurant for dinner
  5. Head over to your local museum that features Black art

– Parenting Journey Team

Need Help?

If your child is in crisis and needs immediate help, please call 911 for assistance.

National crisis hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis line via online chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat or by text: Send the word HOME to 741741

Community Health Network: 317-621-5700

Provides immediate assessments by phone for persons experiencing a mental health crisis 24 hours daily and offers referrals ad scheduling for mental health and addiction treatment providers.

Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center:

317-880-8485

Provides 24-hour telephone crisis interventions for persons with mental health or addiction treatment emergencies.

Aspire Indiana Crisis Line: 1-800-560-4038

Provides 24-hour phone crisis interventions for persons experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis.

Adult & Child Mental Health Center:

1-877-882-5122

Provides a 24-hour crisis and referral phone line.

Families First: 317-251-7575

24-hour crisis and suicide intervention services by both phone and text messaging.

Indiana Coalition against Domestic Violence:

1-800-332-7385

Offers 24-hour crisis intervention, safety planning and shelter referrals for persons in domestic violence situations.