The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Michelle Obama Wants More African Americans to Talk About Mental Health

Michelle Obama

One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, according to the World Health Organization. Around 450 million people currently suffer from mental disorders. Unfortunately, stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorder. African-Americans in particular have a stigma that often keeps them from talking about mental health.

"The stigma around talking about mental health and getting help for it just doesn’t make any sense”

Michelle Obama is speaking out about this stigma, stating that it "just doesn't make any sense." Mental health affects everyone, regardless of race. In fact, African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the rest of the population, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. Yet, African-Americans are reluctant to seek medical professional help for mental illness.

Why African Americans experience more mental health problems

The Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health states that African-Americans are more likely to develop serious mental health problems because they are at greater risk for:
  • Homelessness - people who are homeless have a greater risk of developing mental health problems.
  • Violence - African American children are more likely than other races to be exposed to violence, and violence increases the risk of developing a mental health conditions that can include depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Her plan to end the mental health stigma

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden launched Joining Forces in 2011, a nationwide initiative that supports service members, veterans, and their families through wellness, education, and employment opportunities.

She explains that "mental illnesses are just like physical illnesses and deserve the same kind of care and compassion,” and in order to help those suffering with mental illness, we need to to change the stigma or negative perception that often surrounds mental illness.
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