Mental health issues are no joke. It’s one thing not to like others, but imagine looking in the mirror every day and hating what you see. Imagine if the thoughts in your head were all negative ones, only putting yourself down. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are serious matters, but for some reason, in the black community, we don’t take it as seriously as we should. Maybe because the generations before us were uneducated on this matter, and taught to “pray away” their issues. In our community, when we see someone abusing a substance, we never jump to the conclusion that this person could be trying to cope because we don’t talk about the link between substance abuse and mental health. As a Black Canadian Woman, I can confidently say that it’s about time someone speaks about this. Instead of gossiping to your friends about the girl on Instagram who continually posts videos of herself wasted, why don’t we send her a message and ask her if she’s ok? Instead of staring at the new person at work who looks anxious and uncomfortable, why don’t we say hi? And when someone does tell us that they are going through a hard time or feeling depressed, can we do more than tell them “you’ll be ok, it’s all in your head”? As someone who has overcome these obstacles, the journey was not comfortable, but it was worth it. I want to share some knowledge so that the next time a member of our community shows signs of mental health issues, they don’t go unnoticed. Perhaps speaking up will help our brothers and sisters, perhaps our community will do better.
Facts about mental health issues you probably don’t know
- Mood changes are a common symptom of mental health issues. Some people can’t regulate their emotions, don’t use this against them. Instead, see if you can figure out what is causing the mood change or ask if they would like to talk about.
- A decline in personal care does not mean that someone is “dirty.” People dealing with mental health issues, especially depression, are not feeling good about themselves; the last thing they want to do is shower or wash their hair. If you notice someone has declined in their hygiene routine try buying them a new shampoo or soap, this may entice them to take more care of themselves. Or, surprise them with a spa voucher.
- If you notice someone is having a hard time connecting, for example, at work or a family function, don’t assume this person doesn’t like you or thinks they are better than you. Many people suffering from mental health issues find it difficult to connect with others because they fear being judged or disliked. Walk over to this person and smile; this simple gesture can convey safety.
- When someone seems extremely nervous, it’s probably because they are! Why not be the type of person that helps this person feel comfortable instead of making them feel more awkward. Little things like asking what their name is or what are their hobbies will help calm someone’s anxieties down.
If you were suffering, or if your child was suffering… wouldn’t you want someone to help like this?
To anyone who is struggling, please understand that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You can get through this and you will. It might not happen tomorrow, and it might not even occur in a year. The process of finding the right medication and dosage can take some time if that is the route you want to go. You may need months of therapy sessions before seeing results, but please don’t let this hinder you.
While you embark on your mental happiness journey, I want to give you some options that helped me. These options offer more of a “quick fix” approach so that you can feel relief while you figure out what is the best healing method for you.
- -church services
- -help phone lines
- -motivation videos on YouTube
- -writing/ journaling
If you take anything away from my message, I hope it is to be a better person. In the black community, we are already at a disadvantage because of our skin colour, so why not support one another so that we can all be stronger? This problem will not be solved overnight, but if even a few hear me speak, and share these words, our future generations will have a much better chance to succeed. The next time you see someone struggling, ask yourself… if this was my child, what help would I want someone to give to them? I can guarantee you will feel amazing after helping, and I can guarantee the person that was suffering will feel amazing as well.