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Black Men & Mental Health – Culture

I do it for the Culture!  We hear this in songs all the time.  However, what does our culture reflect regarding Black men and mental health?  Black men are at a higher risk of mental illness due to the negative racial, masculine and historical stigmas associated with them seeking therapy.  Societal norms make it difficult for many men to be openly vulnerable and share their emotions.  Somewhere along the way being “a man” translated into being non-emotional (except for anger, as anger is a socially acceptable emotion for men). Refusing to be vulnerable or share feelings is another sadly acceptable normal behavior for men and especially Black men. For those men who grew up and were considered “sensitive” because they expressed emotions, they were often subjected to bullying and shaming for what are natural and healthy expressions of emotions as human beings. Emotional Intelligence is not something that is prized in our Black communities as a matter of this culture that we so often refer to and cling to.  We talk about money, growing up in the hood, clothes, jewelry, sports, sex, etc. as being the pillars of our cuture, however mental health is never mentioned.  Feelings of depression, anxiety, PTSD, or responses to grief and loss, etc., are all categorized under negative nicknames for these bahaviors including “trippin” or “buggin”. Or exhibiting these feelings are dealt with in unhealthy ways such as glorifying substances as a way of maintaining sanity: (Xanee bars, marijuana, sizzurp).  Thanks are in order for to celebrities such as Logic, Jay-Z, Meta World Peace, Kid Cuddi, Chance the Rapper, Brandon Marshall, Kendrick Lamar and Wayne Brady, who have shared their struggles with mental health in an effort to break the negative stigmas associated with mental illness.  What would it be like for our culture if we started talking to our young men at an early age about healthy ways to identify and express emotions?  How would instilling and teaching emotional intelligence to our youth impact their decision making?  How would our culture be influenced if we promoted seeking help versus glorifying unhealthy ways of managing stress? These and other important questions need to be asked and answered in order to progress the Black community forward. …“For the Culture”, indeed.