As always, I have a bone to pick with the Black community when it comes to addressing mental health. So, here it goes. Also, this post maybe triggering to some Black *Christians. Take my opinions as you wish and feel free to leave your thoughts below.
First off, can we PLEASE STOP telling Black folk to just pray their anxiety / bipolar disorder / depression / PTSD away? We’ve gotta stop NOW. I don’t care how much you believe “God is my therapist” — hear me when I say that YOU CANNOT PRAY MENTAL ILLNESS AWAY. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Think of it this way. Would you advise sista Anna Mae to just pray her cancer away? Or tell your uncle to just talk to God a little longer so his diabetes can be cured? No way …. This sh*t sounds ridiculous. Like any other ailment, mental illness needs to be treated by a professional, preferably a therapist. Just because you cannot physically see someone’s mental anguish doesn’t make it any less real.
Now, this isn’t to say that prayer doesn’t work, because it definitely does. Rather, I believe we should encourage our loved ones to seek help and talk through their issues. And most importantly, we must have our faith leaders trained to counsel folks grappling with their mental heath issues.
So yeah, the just “pray it away” line is played out. STOP IT, okay?
Another thing that really grinds my gears? Black folks thinking other Black folks don’t contemplate or attempt suicide.
I couldn’t believe the outrageous conspiracy theories people cooked up after news that New York Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman appointed to the state’s highest court, had taken her life. It wasn’t long after that James Whisenant Jr., a Black prosecutor, was found dead on a beach in Hollywood, Fla.
His death was too ruled a suicide.
I saw everything from rumors that they were murdered to claims that their deaths were part of a larger plot to take out Black Americans in positions of power. It’s like we refuse to believe that AA’s – especially the prominent, successful and wealthy ones – experience internal struggles that lead them to suicide.
If anything, events like these are a wake up call that mental illness absolutely DOES NOT discriminate … and that you should probably check on that “strong” friend who seems to always have his/her sh*t together.
Generational trauma is real. Depression/anxiety/bipolar disorder is real. Suicidal thoughts and actions are real. It’s time we start acknowledging that.
That concludes my mini rant for now. What do you wish the Black community would stop doing to discount the realness of mental illness?
Catch y’all next time. Love always,