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This year’s theme for Black History Month is “Black Health and Wellness,” set by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The theme not only commemorates African Americans who made contributions to medicine but also highlights ongoing issues within the Black community, including mental health.

“Black Health and Wellness not only includes one’s physical body, but also emotional and mental health,” the organization said on its website. “At this point in the 21st century, our understanding of Black health and wellness is broader and more nuanced than ever.”

Mental health statistics among Black community

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, in 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans between 15 and 24 years old. In 2018, the death rate from suicide for Black or African American men was four times greater than for African American women.

Also, a 2001 report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 to 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233 percent, as compared to 120 percent of non-Hispanic whites.

Amanda Mims of Jackson, Mississippi, said she has battled depression and anxiety since childhood and currently struggles daily with them, with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating her condition.

She even wrote a suicide letter in 2007.

Mims, now 36, said she has been seeking therapy since she was a college student.

“I moved from D.C. to Mississippi in the early months of the pandemic so I knew that I needed support on a huge level,” she told FOX Television Stations. “However, how could I navigate it during a pandemic? That is where the online therapy platform, BetterHelp, came into play. I discovered my therapist on there and have been actively seeing him for the bulk of this pandemic.”

Mims said therapy and writing have been a crucial help in overcoming her battles.

“Writing is healing and therapeutic for me, and my therapist has encouraged me to do some life-changing writing,” she continued.

Psychologists say mental health challenges are prevalent in every culture.

“Mental health is the capacity or ability to cope with life’s stressors and life’s changes,” Dr. Joanne Frederick, a Washington, D.C.-based licensed mental health counselor, told FOX Television Stations. “So, in theory, everyone has mental health, it just depends on an individual’s range of mental health from poor mental health to healthy mental health.”

“In the Black community, people’s mental health ranges from poor to healthy. In which everyone in the Black community has mental health, it just ranges.” Frederick added.

Reasons for mental health challenges in the Black community

Psychologists cite several reasons for mental health issues within the Black community, including being the victim of racism.

“As Black people, we deal with something called Mundane Extreme Environmental Stress (MEES). It’s the unique stress of African Americans who experience the dilemma of ‘being Black in white America,’” clinical psychologist Dr. Barbara Ford Shabazz told FOX Television Stations.

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