Mental illness is a verboten topic in the African American community due to ignorance, mythology and outright past bigotries. As an African American woman who has embraced her mental health condition, living in recovery under the supervision of professional healthcare providers, I KNOW what it is like to suffer dearly due to the stigma of mental illness and to make matters worse, to be shunned by my beloved community.
So, with the advent of social media, connecting to people at break neck speed, I never thought for one minute that I would encounter any bigotry on mental health boards--I did... I was taken aback... I was told that what happened to me has NOTHING to do with the racial bigotry and hatred I encountered while growing up... The terms used, the accusations hurled at me by harassment by authority figures, i.e. police, as to who I am, and fearful of going to the shopping mall because of discriminatory practices by workers... These are real and reason why many women, like myself develop agoraphobia--it just takes too much energy to deal with people by leaving the house... Then we gain weight because all we can do for social interaction is watch television and focus on the internet.
The other issue is educating the laypublic, particularly, women of color and I do it through online social media. I never thought I would get cyberbullied. Told I was stupid, crazy, loony, psychotic and I did not know what I was talking about and had no reason to be there. As a Ph.D. research scientist in molecular genetics, I think I am well-qualified to know a few things about this particular issue. 1) Too many young African Americans are posting their mental angst on the internet through all types of forms, a well trained provider can review the post and tell that something is not occur appropriately; 2) Mental health care has been at odds with the African American community--what I know--and other communities of colors (what I suspect) for years. Distrust, threats, use of police to enact social engineering, conspiracies, etc. The list is long and there has been no apologies made by any mental health society. Then there are cultural norms that people of color do not want to relinquish, regardless of being in pain or unhealthy...
Both sides need to work together, collaboratively...
I may be that one crazy lady on Facebook, NING, Twitter, and my own website: Ari | af | ya LLC a culturally competent online mental health resource support group for diverse women, but hey, for every online belittling I get, I get 2 "Asante's" (Thank you in Twi Language), for providing illumination to improving mental health and wellness to people.
Dr. Gina Moore-Sanders
Mental Zeal for Spirit & Well-Being
Within Unity There Is Strength
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