African American History Month

African American History Month

February is Black History Month, which is why we will be using today's blog to place African American mental health and history in the spotlight. As we fight to remove racial disparities from mental health care, we must recognize the African American voices that have changed the world, the mental health disparities African Americans face in today's society, and work to make the necessary changes to ensure everyone has access to mental health care.

Black Pioneers in the Mental Health Industry

Too often, the contributions African Americans have made to the mental health community have been swept under the rug. These three mental health pioneers are just a few of the many African American mental health trailblazers who deserve to receive recognition for the powerful work they have done to help the mental health movement reach the point it has today:

Bebe Moore Campbell

Bebe Moore Campbell used her voice as an author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate to emphasize the mental health disparities and needs faced by black and non-black minority communities. She founded NAMI-Inglewood, a safe space for black people to turn to with mental health concerns.

Herman George Canady, Ph.D.

As a clinical and social psychologist, Herman George Canady worked to understand how race can create bias in IQ testing. He also contributed to understanding how specific IQ testing environments could impact black students' testing success.

Solomon Carter Fuller, M.D.

Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller was a psychiatrist who contributed significantly to studies about Alzheimer's disease. In his years of practice at Westborough State Mental Hospital, he made ground-breaking discoveries about the physical changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer's disease.

Reasons for Mental Health Disparities in the African American Community

Racial Trauma

Racial trauma is a term that refers to the mental and emotional health effects that occur after one suffers from bias or discrimination based on their base. There are many cases of racism an African American may encounter in their lifetime. This can include individual racism, like a person accusing an African American of a crime based on the color of their skin, or the systemic racism that has 33% of the total prison population identifying as black, even though black people only make up 12% of the American population.

Socioeconomic Disadvantages

Statistics show that Black and African American people tend to experience mental health issues at around the same rate as white Americans. However, racial traumas faced by African Americans can put them at a mental health disadvantage.

Despite the amount of change in occurring in America working to dissipate the inequalities faced by people of color, the country still has a long way to go. As of 2018, more than 1 in 5 African Americans lived in poverty. African Americans tend to face many socioeconomic disadvantages that can negatively impact their mental health.

Racial Disparities in the Mental Health Care

Despite the work that has been done to reduce them, Black and African American people still face many racial disparities in their mental health care. A few examples of this fact include:

  • Black men being four times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than white men, while they are severely underdiagnosed with mood disorders and PTSD.
  • African Americans being severely underrepresented in the mental health field, with 86% of American psychologists being white and less than 2% African American.
  • BIPOC being overrepresented in the criminal justice system, with over 50% of incarcerated BIPOC having mental health concerns or issues.

While we have worked to make positive changes in the mental health field to ensure mental health care for all, we still have a ton of work to do. We must continue to make the changes necessary to ensure that people of all ethnicities and races are given the opportunity to receive the mental health help they need and deserve. If you are looking for inclusive mental health help, we are here for you. Contact us today.


Keywords: racial, ethnicities, mental health stigma