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Issue 17 Out Now

Mental Health in Black Adolescence: Dismissive Parents

“You’re not depressed…”

Over the past few years, mental illness rates have climbed in black children and teens. Between the ages of 10–19, suicide is the second leading cause of death for black adolescence. In 2020, 9% of black youth experienced major depression but less than 40% sought help. Many don’t seek the help they need due to the large stigma within the black community. Older generations, parents and grandparents, seem to be the ones who carry this stigma and place it upon the younger generation.

“You’re not stressed, you’re just a kid.” This is something that I heard myself when I was younger. People tend to believe that kids live stress-free lives because they have no responsibilities from not paying bills or caretaking, but this is false. Kids can be stressed from school, their relationships, and the media. It is especially understandable now because of the unprecedented times we are in. It seems that whenever they get the courage to express their stress, it's dismissed. They are told it's not that serious, that they haven’t experienced true stress yet, etc. When kids feel they don’t have an outlet, they hold things inside, making the situation worse. Stress leads to other issues like depression, which is then ignored as well.

Culture plays a huge part in this stigma. Because of the many years of overcoming adversity, black people are seen as strong and able to handle anything. So when it comes to mental adversity, they think therapy and other treatments aren’t needed. Black people are also a very religious group. Christianity provided healing within the community, especially back in times of rampant racism and segregation. In 2014, 83% of Black Americans believe in God. They rely on God to get them through tough times. So naturally, when it came to mental health, they believe God will solve the issue. While this may be true for many black Christians, therapy was created for a reason. There are also Christian therapists who provide help and include Christ in their practice. People must understand that seeking help isn’t weak nor a slap in the face to God. Sometimes medicine and other forms of treatment need to be involved.

Get in there and depress them dishes,” says TikToker lightsummerkorea, acting as a black parent reacting to their child saying they’re depressed. “This is why I can’t talk to nobody,” comments one user. Many videos flood TikTok of users acting as black parents downplaying depression with black people in the comments relating to the situation. While the videos are meant as satire, they resonate truth that is disheartening to see. The black community needs to realize that mental health issues run through every racial group. It should be taken seriously with proper care so that we can eliminate the stigma and lower the suicide and depression rates within the community.

Just as black lives matter, black mental health matters.



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