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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Data Shows Not Enough Attention Paid to #Suicide in #Black #Children

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

Written by Olivia Riggio

In the last 10 years, suicides among #Black #children aged 5–11 have doubled, while the rate for #white #children of the same age has declined. The National CARES Mentoring Movement, a mentorship organization for #Black #children, and The #AssociationforBlackPsychologists released a report that outlines this crisis and most #physicians lack of awareness surrounding it. The release also brings to light how lack of culturally competent #mentalhealthcare for #Black #children contributes to a society that ignores #Black children’s suffering.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

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

A Lack of Knowledge

From 2001 to 2017, the rate of suicides for adolescent #Black #boys increased by 60%. For adolescent #Black #girls, it increased by 182%.

“This disproportionate increase in #Black #youth death by #suicide constitutes a national public health crisis, but explanations remain speculative, research is limited, and interventions are culturally and contextually deficient,” the report says.

National CARES recently partnered with Sermo, a platform that connects with #physicians, to survey doctors about #suicide in #Black #children.

Among the findings:

  • 73% of polled #doctors believe that #Black #child #suicide should be getting more attention
  • 76% of polled doctors are interested in learning more about culturally relevant approaches to #mentalhealth and wellness
  • 68% of polled doctors do not feel adequately equipped to talk about #Black #child #suicide.

#Racial Discrepancies

The problem of #Black #youth being at such a high risk for #suicide exists within a historic, socio-economic, socio-political and socio-ecological context. Previous studies National CARES cited included factors like trauma passed down through generations, patterns of violence against #Blackcommunities, patterns of violence within communities, distress related to #racism and violence, and bullying as contributing to the public health issue.

2015 study that National CARES cites hypothesizes about why #Black #youth are more likely to die by #suicide.

#Black #children:

  • May experience disproportionate exposure to violence and traumatic #stress
  • Are more likely to be aggressively disciplined at #school
  • Are more likely to experience early puberty which can increase the risk of #depression, feelings of aggression and thoughts of #suicide
  • Are less likely to seek help for #depression and suicidal intentions

It’s unclear whether these factors are directly related to increasing #suicide rates of #Black #children, but they offer possible explanations as to why there are such discrepancies between #suicide rates of #Black and #white #youth.

A Lack of Attention

“Although there is some recognition that #Black #youth experience psychological and emotional stressors differently than #White #youth, few studies examine the unique pathways to suicidal behavior for #Black #youth and adolescents,” the report says.

There are very few studies on the different factors that lead #Black versus #white #youth to #suicideattempts. Additionally, as evidenced by the fact that 68% of doctors feel ill-equipped to talk about #Black #youth #suicide, the problem is not getting enough attention in the medical community.

Many #Black individuals report distrusting the healthcare system. This distrust has been linked to cultural reactions to #racist medical practices throughout history — such as eugenics, the practice of controlling reproduction of certain groups of people in order to create a “strong” human race (which meant white Anglo-Saxon Protestant during the 1800s movement), and invasive medical testing on #Black people to advance medical knowledge in fields such as gynecology.

In #mentalhealthcare specifically, #white people are more likely to be diagnosed with #depression than #Black and #Hispanic people, #Black #adults are more than 20% more likely to report serious psychological distress than #white #adults, according to the Office of Minority Health.

2014 study found that after entering care, minority patients were less likely that #white patients to receive the best available treatments for #depression and #anxiety. According the #AmericanPsychologicalAssociation (APA), in 2015, 86% of psychologists in the U.S. field were #white. Five percent were #Asian, 5% were #Hispanic 4% were #Black and 1% were multiracial or from other ethnic groups.

Cultural competence is important in all dimensions of healthcare. People are more likely to trust those who can empathize with and not minimize their struggles.

“Many #Black #children and #youth may avoid treatment due to cultural mistrust and fear that they will not be understood by non-#Black providers or that the non-#Black provider can deal with their realities,” National CARES’s report says.

A Way Forward

National CARES’s report offers ways to address #suicide in #Black #children and work toward remedying the crisis. Some of these research-backed suggestions include better healthcare professional training, a dedication to heartfelt listening and directly addressing the topic of #suicide with #Black #children and increasing the #Black workforce.

Additionally, it recommends working to conduct more research and gain further knowledge into the nature of suicide — especially for #Black #youth.

The #AmericanFoundationforSuicidePrevention recently announced a goal to focus more on elements in diversity in its research.

The way forward is multi-faceted, the report suggests.

“Framing participation in #mentalhealthservices as a form of wellness or healing may be needed to address the stigma of #mentalhealth and #mentalhealthtreatment in general as well as specifically in the #Black community,” it says. “Building upon the village concept—it takes a village to raise a #child—and increased awareness of promoting community healing, the #stigma may also be addressed by providing #mentalhealthawareness trainings at churches, parks and recreation facilities, community centers, hair salons, and barber shops.”

Photo by August de Richelieu on Pexels.com

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