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More than 35,000 #Black #Americans have died from #COVID-19 and people of color are infected 2.5 times more often than #white people. The toll isn’t just physical. The #mentalhealth impact is also significant.
On the outside, Ivy Watts appeared to have it all together. She was a track star growing up in Waltham. Her athletic and academic success continued in college, but #anxiety and #stress secretly weighed on her.
“People didn’t recognize that I was struggling,” Watts said.
After college, she experienced feelings of #depression and suicidal thoughts. She turned to a close friend and her mother, who both encouraged her to get the help she needed.
“I finally realized that my voice had a lot of power and that it wasn’t shameful to talk about what I was going through,” Watts said.
She launched a blog a few years ago to share her story and created a company, Ivy Watts Speaks, empowering others to talk to about their own #mentalhealth.
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space. #http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle
The site now has a dedicated #COVID-19 and #mentalhealth section. It couldn’t come at a more important time.
According to the #COVID Racial Data Tracker, a collaboration between the #COVID Tracking Project and Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research, #Black people die of #COVID-19 at more than two times the rate of white people. #American #Indian and #Latino communities are also hit hard.
It’s not just physical health. A recent report from the #CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention found 10% of respondents had considered #suicide in June of 2020. Of those, more people of minority racial and ethnic groups had considered it, when compared to the year before.
The report found, “#Mentalhealthconditions are disproportionately affecting specific populations, especially young adults, #Hispanic persons, #Black persons … “
“Context is extremely important,” said Dr. Stephanie Pinder-Amaker, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at McLean Hospital.
She said #COVID-19 isn’t happening in a vacuum but at the same time as the deaths of #GeorgeFloyd and #BreonnaTaylor and the movements those events sparked.
“All of these incidents happened within the span of merely weeks, during a #pandemic in which #Black and #Latino people of color are disproportionately suffering from and dying. The traumatic impact of all of this taken together is very real,” said Pinder-Amaker.
She also said there are barriers to receiving proper diagnosis and treatment, including access.
“I really didn’t feel welcome. I felt like it wasn’t for me,” said Toy Burton.
Burton launched DeeDee’s Cry in 2017, an organization named after her sister, who died by #suicide in 1986. It is focused on #mentalhealthawareness in Boston’s communities of color.
“There’s already deterrents. There’s already stigmas. There’s already hurdles in the way. We don’t want accessibility to be one of them,” Burton said.
She meets people where they are at events like an Easter egg hunt, pre-#pandemic. It’s a chance for families to gather and learn about #mentalhealthresources, if they choose.
Now, she holds “#MentalHealth While Black” panels on Zoom and said she’s able to reach more people online, finding some healing in connection.
“I want people to hear the story so that they know they’re not alone. When we share our stories, we chip away at the #stigma that surrounds #mentalhealth in #communitiesofcolor,” Burton said.
If you or someone you know is seeking #mentalhealthservices, these resources may be of help: