• Afro Social Centric

Black Mental Health is the new Health.

Colder days, longer nights, and no sunshine in sight - time for a mental health check!

Image From Article "The Hidden Stigma in the Black Community"

In the October blog, we discussed preventative physical health to keep you and your immune system one hundred. We would be remiss to neglect an important part of your immune system, your mental health, and the importance of living stress-free and managing well. Let’s face it, our changing environment (hey Rona, we see you are still here) is a key factor in our mood and mental wellbeing. Add on the change in season, it's important we don't get lost in the gloomy dust and be proactive with how we adjust to joy.

Typically, the main concern with a looming winter is a changing mood. Everyone experiences low moods from time to time on multiple levels. Health professionals call a more serious version of this Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that comes with the changes in seasons.

Life can swipe left on us real quick and knock us right off our #newyearnewme pedestal.

At times it all seems to be too much as constant worries of relationships, work, and self-esteem become challenging to manage. And forget the seasons, this year has brought on a whole tsunami of change with back to back waves that seem to not want to quit. A global pandemic greatly challenged even the most self-aware of us all. Our mental wellbeing has experienced sudden physical distancing resulting in significant isolation, loss of the many activities and travels that bring us much joy and an ongoing uncertainty of what’s to come. So how do we possibly keep the knocks from knocking us out?

And if you and your strong zen game managed to ‘hommm’ your way through the initial phases of a global pandemic, the world quickly reminded you that you are still Black!

Generally, Black Canadian’s are, ‘significantly more likely to experience mental illness compared to other racial/ethnic groups’ (Black Mental Health Canada Inc.).

Black folks face disproportionally poor outcomes across the social determinants of health (ie. access to healthcare, clean environment, safe housing, income, education, etc.). Therefore, when pandemics challenge the globe, they truly impact the Black community at a greater magnitude. And if the experience of one pandemic was not sufficient, a Black pandemic would follow beginning with #BLM and continuing today with such movements as #EndSARS, #PrayforEthiopia, #CongoIsBleeding, #ShutItAllDown, #AmINext, #RapeNationalEmergency, #ChildTrafficking and others yet unnamed and coming to the global stage. So, when we sought to talk about mental wellness separately- this is why. Black mental health and wellbeing has, and continues to be, greatly challenged.

We know that mental health continues to be highly stigmatized within the Black communities and many of you sadly continue to struggle silently.

We want to be a voice in shedding light to this important and hidden issue within the Black community. We want to encourage you to start now to recognize how your mental health has been impacted, so you can take steps to address this in your life and in those around you. Sometimes challenges in our mental health show up differently for each of us. Is your eating or sleeping inconsistent? Are you feeling unusually irritable, constantly worrying, or experiencing severe mood swings? Are you keeping to yourself more than usual? Well, below are some steps you can take today to take care of your mental health:

Mental Wellbeing in Your Hands:

  1. Make Social Connections A Priority – it’s physical distancing, not social distancing - watch the game, have a girl’s night, plan that date- but make it virtual.

  2. Stay Active – a brisk walk, climb building stairs, join a virtual class and boost that mood.

  3. Eat Healthy – make nutritious and joyful meals and be mindful of alcohol and drug use.

  4. Sleep Well – not too much, not too little, just restful enough.

  5. Engage In Meaningful/Purposeful Tasks – work, volunteer, care for others and feel good about it.

  6. Be Kind to Yourself – some positive self-talk, some self-care activities, a whole lot of self love!

  7. And, Keep A Positive Outlook – think goodness and light and you'll be surprised at your shift in mood.

Image from Physiopedia

We also know it’s not always that simple. What builds positive mental wellness is complex and sometimes our periodic low mood can turn into a low state. What if you are feeling hopeless or helpless? What if you are thinking of harming yourself or others? It’s important to be honest about your mental health and seek professional help when needed.

It's ok to be Black and to struggle with mental illness and to also get professional help for it. In fact, it's more than ok- it's a priority!

Thankfully, there are some folks that understand the intersectionality of culture and mental health. Below are some organizations that provide culturally appropriate services and resources while also working hard to address the mental health stigma within in the Black community. They provide access to affordable, culturally informed mental health education and services.

Check them out and give them a follow! What organizations do you know who are working towards addressing mental health within the Black community? Share and tag us!

Go on with your mindful, meditating, self-aware self and keep taking care of the one who matters most- you!

- Your ASC Connect