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The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives is a project that sheds light on mental health in communities of color by sharing stories by those affected by mental illness. By sharing our stories, we open up discussion around the topic and break through stigma and shame.

The contributors represent those living with or affected by loved ones with depression, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and other conditions.

They are men and women, children and adults, political prisoners, college students, politicians, musicians, business people, artists, fathers, mothers, daughters…all of African, Latino, and Asian descent. Their narratives add to the tapestry of the human experience and without them, our history is incomplete.

Black Mental Health: What You Need To Know

The topic of mental illness is often taboo in Black communities. If we eliminate this stigma, can we help people get the mental health care they need?

We know that people of all ethnicities and cultures experience mental health conditions, and that Black individuals experiences mental health challenges at rates similar to other groups.

However, when considering the mental health of Black Americans, it’s important to look at historical and cultural factors, some of which have led to significant disparities. For example, 25% of Black people seek mental health treatment when needed, compared to 40% of white people.

When Christine M. Crawford, MD, MPH, was doing her psychiatric rotation in medical school, she knew psychiatry was her calling. But when she shared that she decided to become a psychiatrist instead of specializing in another field of medicine, the response she received was one of disappointment.

“One person asked why I didn’t want to become a ‘real’ doctor,” Crawford said. “Another asked why I would want to work with ‘those’ people.”

Crawford said it was challenging to hear this from those closest to her—individuals she knew to be compassionate, smart, and supportive to others. Crawford, who is Black, said at that point she truly understood the depth of mental health stigma in the Black community.

“Ironically, as my career as a psychiatrist progressed,” she said, “I came to learn that many who responded most negatively to my career choice were the very people I was dedicating my life to helping—African Americans who silently live with mental illness for fear of being judged.”

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Excerpted from Mass General Brigham McLean

If you are experiencing a mental health medical emergency, all 911 or go immediately to the closest emergency room.

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