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Black Mental Health Matters

Developing the Ultimate Support System

Protecting the mental health of the Black and African American community is vital. It is an understatement to say this is a difficult time for Black and African American people in America, especially considering the countless lives that have been lost at the hands of police brutality and the disproportionate rate of deaths due to COVID-19. The tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Jacob Blake, Tyre Nichols, and many others, have left Black and African Americans, people of color, and those connected to the community fighting psychological warfare. This mental health state-of-emergency has Black and African American communities looking for ways to find peace and consolation.

According to the Office of Minority Health under the Health and Human Services Department, Black individuals and African Americans are 10% more likely to experience severe psychological distress than other races. Experts at Diversus Health agree that these statistics are likely to increase without ensuring that Black and African Americans receive access to healthy support systems to help them cope and survive through this triggering time.

The Power of Support Systems in Recovery

Every Black and African American has a different experience at the intersection of mental health and personal well-being. However, there are several shared cultural factors that play a significant role in helping to define and support mental well-being, resiliency, and healing. These shared cultural experiences are often enriching sources of strength that can include family connections, values, spiritual and artistic expression, community reliance, and religious networking.

Although there are many positive and inspiring shared cultural experiences, there are the uglier shared experiences of facing racism, discrimination, and inequity, which significantly affect the mental health of Black and African Americans. Enduring harsh biases and being treated or perceived as “less than” because of skin color can be stressful and traumatizing. Add to this struggle the challenge of accessing appropriate health care and treatment needed to overcome these psychological barriers and trauma. These disparities may contribute to worse mental health outcomes throughout the Black and African American community.

In an effort to combat these disparities, therapists and counselors recommend establishing a support system or community as part of the ongoing mental health recovery process. A support system is generally a network made up of a group of people or organizations that can be relied upon to help individuals stay safe and sober. Support systems and communities can include acquaintances, close friends, family, friends from recovery groups and programs, or a combination of supportive individuals within these communities and other health-focused organizations.

Finding Strength in Numbers

The road to recovery is not always quick or easy. With any significant change in life, facing difficulties and problems while working through the recovery process is typical. Developing a long-term support system is beneficial to maintaining accountability and can foster peer encouragement as a mechanism of non-professional, non-clinical assistance.

Going into healing means getting comfortable with your patterns of thought and behavior. Support systems can provide compassion for those working through their struggles. Being surrounded by a healthy support system or community allows for the opportunity to make amends or create new relationships that benefit the recovery journey. A healthy support system can encourage healthy decisions, such as attending regular meetings and having consistent dialogue with sponsors and supportive group members.

Where to Find Support

There are many advantages to participating in recovery groups and support programs. Everyone involved understands the challenges of working towards recovery and healing. It is likely that others in the group have experienced similar difficulties or have ideas and insights about how to cope. Let these groups provide a safety net during low points when you need to express your struggles.

Spend Time with Family

When family members participate in counseling programs, they can gain a better understanding of the battles being faced and the impact on their relatives. Family can provide wonderful support in everyday encouragement to help loved ones stay on course throughout the healing journey.

Participate In an Organization

Take part in an organization that makes room for support and service. Many jobs are available across different organizations that allow for structure and community assistance. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, participate in local park gardening, or sponsor someone in need of extra support. Support systems help individuals find a sense of belonging and purpose in their journey to recovery.

Reach Out to a Professional

Take advantage of a professional, social worker, specialist, or a community leader. Trained listeners often provide additional support for those going through recovery. When life gets hard, talk to someone who has been there, who can help. Simply finding someone who can be there when the road gets bumpy can go a long way in strengthening continued support and sustaining recovery.

*If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health crisis, contact us at Diversus Health to schedule an appointment today. If you need to speak with someone immediately, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, or text ‘TALK’ to 38255.

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