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Nurturing our Emotional Health


According to mentalhealth.gov, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” We’ve had so many obstacles thrown at us since the beginning of 2020 that have stressed our capacities to respond in healthy ways, such as COVID-19, racial traumas, political frustrations, and financial pressures, to name a few.

According to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

• The suicide rate among Black youth has been found to be increasing faster than any other racial/ethnic group.

• Black adults living below the poverty line are more than twice as likely to report serious psychological distress than those with more financial security.

• Additionally, members of the Black community face structural racism, leading to barriers to accessing the care and treatment they need. Only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it.

According to the CDC:

• Only one in three African Americans who need mental health care receives it.

• Compared with non-Hispanic whites, African Americans with any mental illness have lower rates of any mental health service use, including prescription medications and outpatient services, but higher use of inpatient services.

• Black people with mental health conditions, particularly schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other thought disorders, are more likely to be incarcerated than people of other races.

• Compared with the general population, African Americans are less likely to be offered either evidence-based medication therapy or talk therapy.

Early warning signs of a mental health problem could include:

Eating or sleeping too much or too little, pulling away from people and usual activities, feeling emotionally numb or like nothing matters, having unexplained aches and pains, feeling hopeless or helpless, having thoughts of suicide or self-harm, yelling or fighting with others, smoking/drinking/drug use, experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships, having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head, and having flashbacks of events that were life-threatening or extremely fear-producing.

Helpful strategies to nurture good mental health include:

Keeping a regular sleep schedule and stopping all use of electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, eating a balanced diet with less processed food and more healthy homecooked meals, getting regular exercise or physical movement at least 30 minutes each day, connecting with others through organizations/community outreach efforts/support groups, engaging in enjoyable hobbies, learning to calm inner thoughts with meditation and relaxation strategies, and taking a break from social media and excessive news consumption. You can find additional resources for Black mental health at https://988lifeline.org/help-yourself/black-mental-health/

If you or someone you know is in a mental health crisis:

• Text 988 to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline if you or someone you know is in crisis

• If you call 911, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) suggests the following: Share all the information you can with your 911 operator. Tell the dispatcher that your loved one is having a mental health crisis and explain their mental health history and/or diagnosis. Many communities have crisis intervention team (CIT) programs that train police officers to handle and respond safely to psychiatric crisis calls. You should ask for a CIT officer if possible.

About the author:

Dr. Samantha Jordan is a licensed psychologist. She is a graduate of the Clinical Psychology program at the Georgia School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, where her academic concentration was in Clinical Neuropsychology. She has extensive experience in psychological assessment and therapy with children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of presenting circumstances. These include ADHD, learning disabilities, mood and anxiety disorders, traumatic brain injury, and bereavement. Her clinical interests include psychological and neuropsychological assessment, psychoeducational assessment, increasing compliance with mental health/physical health treatment regimens, improving self-esteem, and decreasing anxiety. She is an active member of Shaw Temple A.M.E. Zion Church.

The article is submitted as a part of the Prescribing Positivity Series, Office of Health Ministry of The A.M.E. Zion Church.

Nurturing, Mental, Emotional Health, African Americans, Prescribing Positivity series


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