HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
April 05, 2010
Contact Information

Travis Francis
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

(BPRW) Mental Health in the African-American Community

(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) – Mental illness is often stigmatized and misunderstood in the African-American community. There is no official definition of mental health but according to the World Health Organization, mental health is determined by socio-economic and environmental factors. A person’s mental health is determined by multiple and interacting social, psychological, and biological factors.

In a study published by the National Institutes of Mental Health, almost half of all Americans will develop some form of mental illness during their lifetime. African-Americans only make up 13 percent of the United States population but suffer a greater percentage of many of the leading health conditions in the United States.

Studies have shown that African-Americans tend to stay away from mental health professionals and health care professionals because of cultural biases. These biases come from prior experiences with misdiagnoses, inadequate treatment, and a lack of cultural understanding. The research has also shown that one out of three African-Americans who need mental health care actually seeks out to receive help. And in comparison to their peers, African-Americans are more likely to stop treatment early and are less likely to receive follow-up care.

Another issue is that there are not enough providers who specialize in issues that affect the African-American community. African-Americans only represent two percent of psychiatrists, two percent of psychologists and four percent of social worker professionals.

For more information on mental health, visit the National Institute of Mental Health at www.nimh.nih.gov.