Black Mental Health: Longer History Of Harm Than Covid-19


black-people-therapy "Woman sitting criss-cross" (Photo: Getty Images)
By: David Johnson/BNC Digital Reporter

For many in the Black community, some are hurting emotionally, others trying to make ends meet financially, and more are trying to navigate through uncertainty.

But many have asked, when was the last time anyone invested in their mental health? To understand how COVID-19 is affecting the mental health of Black America, maybe this will jog your memory.

While at home, many have watched the news, opened a news app on your phone , or logged on to social media at one point or another.

The only topic anyone is talking about is related to COVID-19 deaths, police shooting Black Americans, and crippling financial news that directly impacts minorities.

According to the CDC, the rise of COVID-19 has caused a diversity of different issues that can include:

Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.

  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Worsening of mental health conditions.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Despite the threat of COVID-19, violence towards Black people and the need for law enforcement reform still remains, as Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd join an increasingly long list of injustices committed to members of Black America.

Westley West
The Rev. Westley West leads a march for Freddie Gray to the Baltimore Police Department’s Western District police station, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Baltimore. Gray died from spinal injuries about a week after he was arrested and transported in a police van. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

As viral videos of violence surface far too often the questions are raised: “Is this the new norm that Black America should condition themselves for? Or are we a community that hurts in silence?”

In a recent study by Dr. Erlanger A. Turner and Jasmine Richardson, even those who witnessed violence indirectly or directly could be going through Racial Trauma and not know.

Racial Trauma is anxiety as a result of racial harassment, witnessing racial violence, or experiencing institutional racism.

In a recent interview with Dr. Jameca Woody Cooper, she advises those who have experienced sudden anxiety or depression from trauma seek therapy, or have a team of supportive friends to consol too.

Along with violence triggering trauma, Black children are just as vulnerable to mental and social harm from being home more and around their friends less.

According to a study from Amy Morin, 3.1 million young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year in the United States.

“We have seen elevated acting out, regression, withdrawal, clinginess, needing comfort, and reassurance that all is well in the world. The sad part is that children of color are not likely to get help because of lack of access or parents viewing therapy as a viable option”, said Children’s Mental Health Counselor Jane Marks.

black families
Mother and child (photo by Jason Allen)

Marks also points out, Hypervigilance in children can be caused by parents stressing over loss of homes, food scarcity, income, and jobs amid COVID-19.

As of May, 40 million American citizens have filed for unemployment due to mass layoffs amid COVID-19.

Even before COVID-19, evidence shows minorities are vastly underpaid, as just last year franchise Oracle, underpaid Blacks and minorities by $401 million over a four year period.

Lack of finances amid COVID-19 has shown increased strain in relationships, as well as couples with pre-existing problems.

According to 2018 divorce statistics, 782,038 divorces were filed that year , and experts believe this number will jump once COVID-19 is contained.

“If you like your partner and you are still feeling closed, the best thing to do is give your partner some type of space. You can go for a drive, go outside more, go to the grocery store, or if you’re in the house being in separate rooms to get space from each other” , said Dr. Cooper.

Many may think COVID-19, the economy, and black people dying to police are problematic in Black America, however it’s those things that are slowly causing more harm mentally.