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"Black and African American mental health, Black mental health community"

For years, mental health education and awareness in Black communities has been fueled by negative stigmas, racial discrimination in mental health care and a lack of equitable access to resources and services. Therefore, ADAA is using Black Mental Health Month to promote the strength and power one feels when leveraging your own community members as a support system. Having the courage to share stories of triumph and/or tribulations can offer a sense of power because one quickly realizes that there are others that share similar experiences. In honor of ADAA’s first annual Black Mental Health Month, we encourage you to share your story and actively listen to the experiences of others to truly find the power of community. Find out how to share your story with ADAA.  

Understanding Mental Health Stigmas 

Acknowledging mental health and wellness specifically within African American communities can be a difficult task. In the Black community, people often misunderstand what a mental health condition is and therefore begin to create negative stigmas around the topic. This lack of understanding leads many to believe that a mental health condition is a personal weakness or a form of punishment. Many African Americans have trouble recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, which leads to underestimating the effects of mental health conditions. Members of the Black community may also be reluctant to discuss mental health issues and seek treatment because of the shame and stigma still associated with such conditions in their community.1  

When black people—especially black women—report health problems, symptoms or medical issues to professionals, their experiences are commonly minimized or ignored. They are commonly told directly or indirectly that they are exaggerating, and they are treated accordingly. When they request or advocate for specific tests or services, they are commonly reminded they are not themselves medical professionals and what they are requesting isn't needed. This itself can increase feelings of anxiety and depression. It is also one more reason that many black people might be reluctant to seek mental health services or trust that health professionals have their best interest in mind. 
Historically, health professionals (including POC professionals educated in the west) have been taught and socialized to think/assume that black people (and other people of color) don't experience physical and emotional pain to the same degree as non-POC. And systems have been created to support this view. The pop-culture and feminist lexicon also reinforces this with the "strong black woman" and "strong black man" trope. 

"Black and African American mental health, Black mental health community""Black and African American mental health, Black mental health community"

It can be hard to unlearn some of the negative stigmas associated with mental health when some of the Black community still reinforce them. However, there have recently been many strides in the community to end the stigmas that have proved successful. It is not an easy change or adjustment, but it begins with unlearning those stigmas and becoming educated on the real definition of those mental health conditions. Ultimately this can help to embrace your own mental health journey. 

Depression & Anxiety 

Although anyone can develop a mental health problem, Black Americans sometimes experience more severe forms of mental health conditions due to unmet needs and other socio-economic barriers. Nearly 45 million people in the U.S. identify as Black, with at least 3.1 million identifying as a combination of Black and another race. Of that, More than 7 million Black and African American individuals in the U.S. are living with a mental health condition.3 According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Black youth who are exposed to violence are at a greater risk for PTSD by over 25%.2  Black Americans are also more likely to be exposed to factors that increase the risk for developing a mental health condition, such as homelessness and exposure to violence.  

"Black and African American mental health condition"

Both depression and anxiety are often misdiagnosed and mistreated in Black communities. Because Black communities have historically experienced extreme adversities, it is easy for the community to ignore and normalize symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Therefore, gathering and understanding information on how to recognize the signs and impacts of both depression and anxiety, can make it easier to reclaim one’s own mental health journey.  

Choosing the Right Therapist  

It is important to find a mental health provider who demonstrates the ability to understand and consider the social and cultural needs of diverse patients. Unfortunately, research has shown a lack of understanding or cultural competence in mental health care, which results in misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment. When meeting with a mental health professional ask questions to get a sense of their level of cultural sensitivity, whether they have treated other African Americans, received training in cultural competence, and how they plan to take beliefs and practices into account when suggesting treatment. Learn more about finding the right therapist.  

Below are websites where you can find Black mental health providers in your area. 

Finding Community Support 

"Black and African American mental health, Black mental health community"

These ADAA resources—blog posts, webinars, articles, and stories—provide helpful information, support, and opportunities to learn more about mental health within Black communities.  

Personal Stories from the ADAA Community

Support from ADAA Professional Members and Media Resources: 

ADAA Blogs and Additional Resources

ADAA Infographics

Trending Articles  

ADAA Board of Directors Statement: ADAA Stands Against Racism

June 4, 2020

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s (ADAA) mission is more critical than ever. Since ADAA’s founding 40 years ago, we have been committed to ensuring that everyone who struggles with an anxiety disorder, depression or PTSD can obtain the resources they need to live healthier and more productive lives. 
Over the last few months, we have seen that many of our underserved neighborhoods and communities of color have suffered disproportionately from the spread of COVID-19 and racism. Many of these same marginalized communities are also grappling with economic uncertainty, and now with the recent killing of George Floyd following so many other killings of African Americans, with increased mental health issues. ADAA’s mental health experts understand that exposure to these pervasive racial traumas and stressors are detrimental to one’s mental health. We also know that many people of color who suffer from mental health issues also experience less access to care and servicesRead the full statement here.

Additional Mental Health Resources  


  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). (2021). Black/African American.
  2. American Psychological Association (APA). (2017, September). African Americans Have Limited Access to Mental and Behavioral Health Care.
  3. file:///Users/tiaraj./Desktop/2022-BIPOC-MHM-Toolkit.pdf
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