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Mental Illness and Mental Health in the Black Community

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Mental health and illness have had a negative stigma on the African American community for decades. It is a conversation that has been ignored and looked over, but when are we going to face the real issue? Most people don’t understand the definition of mental illness and how it affects a person’s mental health or a person life, In an article they explain what exactly mental illness is and how it affects a person’s life and how you can recognize the warning signs; “A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines” (Mental illness and the family, NP). There are many types of mental illness, but the main one that affects African American teenagers is depression. Depression affect many African American teenagers on a day to day basis, and African American parents or family members just look over it and dismissed the person coming out about their mental health. They always get told that there is no reason to be depressed, they have food on the table, clothes on their back, and a roof over their head. Although, mental illness is unspoken in an African American environment, especially in the home environment many African American teenagers have it and suffer from it in silent.

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People who are impoverished, homeless, incarcerated or have substance abuse problems are at higher risk for poor mental health (Black & African American, NP). Mental illness can affect anyone, but the main focus is how it affects the teenagers in our communities, and homes. The main people in African American communities you see with mental illness are black teenagers. They are often dismissed as they are told that they are just kids and how there is no real problems in their lives just yet. The parents with that mindset do not understand by them telling their kids that their mental illness is not a real issue messes with their own mindset, even more than their mental illness already has. Depression comes with the tendencies of suicidal thoughts, most suicides and suicide attempts happen with teens who suffer with depression. That is the only time when mental illness is discussed in a black home, they try to take action after the fact. If the parents of the teenager listened and took action and realized the symptoms before the teenager took matters in their own hand, it all could have been prevented. In the end, most teenagers think death is the best way out, because they would not keep feeling the way they have been feeling for months or longer. Depression is different for everyone, it can be a person sleeping all the time, not eating, not wanting to get up in the morning, or to being out with friends and suddenly having a mood change when they were just laughing. Depression can happen anywhere and at any time, depression does not have a set schedule.

Depression can affect your brain in multiple ways and areas that most people do not know about. In the brain it affects the amygdala, hippocampus, and the thalamus. While in the nervous system it affects it neurotransmitter, the reason why depression affects the brain like that because of the high stress levels that depression can bring. The amygdala is involved with experiencing of emotions, while hippocampus is the center of emotion, memory, and the autonomic nervous system; and the thalamus is sensory information and the center of pain perception. Depression also has a major effect on one’s body, like change of eating habits, sleep pattern, loss of interest, and aches and pain throughout the body. There are so many signs that can determine if a person is depressed or on the verge of having depression, just have to pay close attention to that person. Once you research what all the symptoms of a depression and what could be a symptom you easily help that person who is in need of some serious help. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it in order to keep that person in your life, healthy and loved.

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