“Even as a writer I’d be ashamed to put it on paper because I didn’t want people to think that I was crazy. But what I’ve learned is that my battles are never for me.”
I’m a big advocate for healthy mental health within the African American community. Unfortunately, we tend to stick with the stigma that mental health does not affect us or give someone the title of “crazy.” According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, African Americans are 20% more susceptible to a serious mental health condition than the general population. This is due to several different reasons such as socioeconomic disparities, homelessness, increased exposure to violence, distrust in medical diagnoses, and the lack of African Americans in the mental health field. There are less than 2% of blacks in the American Psychological Association which means that a lot of providers are not culturally competent to effectively treat African Americans and our specific problems. Therefore, in our community we tend to rely heavily on family, our faith and social communities instead of seeking professional help. Coupled with the fact that many don’t know that there are resources available for mental health often at discounted prices or even free. Although religion/spirituality and family is great for the recovery and coping process, professional help is often needed.
I personally battle depression every single day. Before I was clinically diagnosed, I thought that if I prayed enough, did my positive affirmations, and “got out my head” then I would be able to pull myself out of my funk. It wasn’t until I started having suicidal thoughts and depression was physically affecting my body that I sought out professional help. Even after that, I attempted suicide (thankfully unsuccessfully) and spent a week in a mental health hospital. That was where I was forced to face the reality, my reality of the situation. I learned that depression wasn’t just something you took a pill for and it magically went away forever or it wasn’t something that you could pray away. This year will be two years since I’ve been dealing with depression and I still see my therapist weekly. I’ve developed coping mechanisms when I feel myself spiraling into the darkness. I’ve also identified my triggers and do my best to avoid them and that includes people too! I used to be ashamed to tell people my story. Even as a writer I’d be ashamed to put it on paper because I didn’t want people to think that I was crazy. But what I’ve learned is that my battles are never for me. They have proven to always be for someone else. To help and motivate someone else and let them know “Hey, you’re not alone.” So, if you’re battling depression or any other mental health illness, I want you to know that you are never alone and there are plenty of resources available in our community. You do not have to fight it alone and no, you’re not crazy!
Here are several African American therapists and psychiatrists available:
- Community Behavioral Center LLC
- Felicia Perry
- Jireh Counseling
- Center Felicia Jenkins
- New Vision Counseling Center
- Kristy Christopher-Holloway
- They also have several other therapists on staff
- The Neuropsychiatric Clinic of Atlantis
- Dr. Randy Warner
- 678-945-4211 (Lithia Springs office)
- 678-840-8446 (Villa Rica office)