The National Alliance on Mental Health reports that “although anyone can develop a mental health problem, African Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other barriers.”
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. Issues such as discrimination, past trauma – often passed from generation to generation unless nipped in the bud, poverty, violence and the pressures of being sole providers – can exacerbate depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Another imperative mention is the lack of adequate mental health facilities, distrust for medical providers, mental health providers not being properly educated or versed in treating the African-American community, and the disproportionate amount of Blacks that are under-insured or not insured at all. Therapy and medication are quite expensive.
All of the aforementioned notions coupled with the need for many blacks in the community to put up a façade of being strong when in fact they are dying inside adds fuel to the fire. In order to conquer the demons that lay before us, we need to acknowledge its existence and take the steps needed to heal ourselves and help each other.
Scroll through to learn about six black celebrities that suffer from mental illness:
You may remember Lark Voorhies as Lisa Turtle in the popular show Saved By The Bell and other television appearances in her heyday.
However, over the past several years, Voorhies has made the news by displaying erratic behavior and an unusual appearance.
In 2012, her mother revealed that the child star is suffering from bipolar disorder. Voorhies has stated that this is untrue and that she continues to work on writing and music.
Kanye West, the controversial rapper admitted in June that he is bipolar and calls it his “superpower.”
West chooses to look at his sickness as an advantage rather than a disability.
The semi-retired wrestler and actor has been quite candid about his battles with depression.
In a YouTube video, he stated, “I found that, with depression, one of the most important things you could realize is that you’re not alone, You’re not the first to go through it; you’re not going to be the last to go through it. And oftentimes—it happens—you just feel like you’re alone. You feel like it’s only you. You’re in your bubble. And I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and [say], ‘Hey, it’s gonna be OK. It’ll be OK.’ So, I wish I knew that.”
The singer and songwriter opened up in April about her struggles with bipolar disorder.
She was diagnosed in 2001 but kept it a secret from the public.
She explained, “Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she says. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.”
The former Scandal actress has been refreshingly candid about her bouts of depression, having an eating disorder and her need to speak about therapy publicly.
She reiterated in 2015, “I say that publicly because I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health. … My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink?”
Brandon Marshall is a wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks. He formerly played for the New York Giants, New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins.
Marshall is also the founder of Project 375, an organization that aims to “raise awareness, erase the stigma, and help people to get diagnosed and treated.”
In 2011, he was struggling in managing his personal and professional life. He confessed to making unwise choices because of it. Eventually, Marshall was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.
BPD is “a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness.”