Our recent blog post, The Nina Simone State of Mind: Mental Health and African American Women, highlighted the High Priestess of Soul life and her beautiful, yet battling mindset. As I type this, there are not enough characters that can pin the amount of African American, black and melanin women suffering in silence and denial about their own mental health status. We can deal with our mental health in silence until we can’t deal anymore should not be our attitude towards mental health awareness. Let’s flip the card to another dimension of mental health.
Wealthy Class and Mental Health
Because our society and the mental health community, in general, has advanced in medicine, therapy, and treatment since the early 1900’s, more individuals have been able to speak their truth and receive help with their mental health illnesses. Most of these people I am referencing are celebrities, like Gabourey Sidibe, the girl who starred in the 2009 movie Precious and her reoccurring role in the television drama, Empire. She has battled depression and panic attacks. Jenifer Lewis, a long-time and prominent figure in Black Hollywood has had her own battles. Jenifer has lived most of her acting career with bipolar disorder. There are so many others, like Halle Berry, Lisa Nicole Carson, and Janet Jackson. Dare I say these women are a part of the wealthy class. They can afford the needed services to live a healthy life with their mental health illness. Most middle and poor classes of women cannot afford services or seek counseling. It is not due to accessibility, but due in part of not knowing, shame, and lack of education about mental health.
Society Influences and Mental Health
What about our black children? School shootings are a prime example. However, most of our children, black children, are not apart of this statics quo. It is primarily white children, teenagers, that are involved, whether shooter or victim in random school shootings. Most of the media has played the mental health card when it comes to the basis of these school shootings and its occurrences. Granted most, if not all, black children have not been labeled as the shooters. African American and black mothers also suffer from the fear of their children being a bystander of these crimes. In addition, when you add in police harassment, profiling, and mistaken identity, you have another layer of fear to add to the mindset of someone with mental health problems.
Phyllis Hyman and Mental Health
In her suicide letter, she stated the following, “I’m tired. I’m tired. Those of you that I love know who you are. May God bless you”. This statement was made by Phyllis Hyman, who committed suicide on June 30th, 1995. She was like Nina Simone, ahead of her time as a writer, songstress, and public figure. She was scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theater that day. Unfortunately, she died 3 hours later at the St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital. She overdosed on pentobarbital and secobarbital in her New York bedroom. However, that incident was not the first time she attempted to kill herself. This was just the incident that she was successful in her attempt. How many African American and black women would say they are tired?
Current Mental Health Dimension
Back to the initial opening of this discussion. We, as African American, Black, and melanin women, no longer need to suffer in silence and denial. History has shown us that we’ve been a target of systematic oppression starting with our families. What direct access to a women’s mindset and spirit than to take away the one thing that we know how to do exceptionally well? That is, being solid nurturers, educators, leaders, and pillars in our communities. Taking away or breaking up the African American/Black family is a direct assault on the mindset and mental anguish of the African American/Black women.
Your class and place in society should never dictate if you need help. There are too many free resources available. FEAR should not be a reason to suffer in silence and denial. Generational curses passed down from our ancestors can stop with you. There have been ENOUGH women who have suffered in silence for you to be able to speak up. If you think or know that you are experiencing mental health problems, speak up! You are not the only one in the boat. You never were. Ask your ancestors. We all came over together. We all can conquer and rise among the statistic quo of mental health together.
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Research & Written by Empress Owl
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