Welcome to May- which is Mental Health Awareness Month
To kick this very special month off, I want to begin by speaking on a topic that’s rarely talked about: Mental Health within the black and brown communities. Though mental health/wellness knows no color, I felt inclined to highlight mental health within these specific communities because for so long, it was considered “taboo” and suggested that it “didn’t apply” to us, when that is in fact, that is 100% wrong.
Mental health doesn’t care whether you’re black, white, purple, green, or orange. If you are a human being having a human experience, mental health is applicable. Many black and brown people come from an extensive background of historical trauma.
Endurance is engrained in melanin DNA, and resilience flows through their veins because there was no other option. But on the flip side, what are the ramifications of internalizing unresolved trauma?
I’ll tell you- insecurity, inability to effectively communicate, resentment, lack of trust, PTSD, alcohol or substance abuse, anger, stress, anxiety, depression and/or suicide, to name a few.
Having that sort of thought process has undoubtedly taught black and brown people how to sustain and be resilient in most obstacles, but it provided a keen falsehood.
In the face of adversity, processing feelings and emotions was something they just weren’t openly able to do. You had to suppress it because if your showed emotion or feelings, you would be considered weak, or a punk; if you were a man, you’d be emasculated. So, people held what they endured inside.
But the ideology of burying the pain or hurt portrays a distorted picture which in all actuality, has cosigned dysfunction. You are a human being with human emotions. They are not meant to be disregarded and when they are, they come out in some other area of your life- whether that be romantic relationships, how you raise your children, or even how you see the world. Unsettled feelings and emotions cause people to live through that dysfunction as opposed to their authentic selves.
Strength comes from knowing, acknowledging, and accepting that there may be a problem. Seeking help for things you know is a hinderance in your life conveys an astronomical amount of courage. People must understand that it is completely okay not to be okay.
Reflecting and removing remnants of your past is vital to your mental stability. But that only happens once you become aware. Without cognizance, you can't begin to heal because how can you heal a problem you don’t feel exists?
With the hardships that black and brown people face, they could benefit profoundly from therapy, although therapy was never on their radar. But I encourage you to think differently about the things you were taught, because a lot of the things we inherited were wrong... and this isn’t to discredit our parents or legal guardians because they too were taught what they handed down.
Let’s teach our children the importance of self-care and allow them to feel what they’re feeling. People aren’t robots and therefore, processing the things that’s occurred is vital to their future. Let’s stop the abnormal way of thinking in an effort to give our children a better perspective than we had. We all want our children and future generations to come to be better than us, right? So, we must set the tone. When you know better, you do better and I am encouraging you all to set the proper tone.