Common Mental Illnesses in Black Households

What’s one thing not talked about a lot in black households?

Mental illness is definitely a topic on that list. From my experience, I have noticed, the lack of knowledge about the subject causes a lot of black people to write it off.

We don’t tend to take mental illness serious, until it becomes the root cause of serious issues in the future.

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According to Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program, black adults are 20% more likely to mental health problems than the rest of the population, however, only 25% of black individuals seek treatment for mental health problems.

Mental illnesses can be as debilitating as physical illnesses, we recommend you seek help in a way that best fits your needs.

Here are four common mental illnesses in the black community and common symptoms:


Anxiety can be defined as a fear or hesitance with future events. Its a way your body may indicate or react to stress.

Although everyone may experience a level of anxiety throughout their lifetime, the way to determine if it’s a level in which you may need to seek guidance or help is by asking yourself questions like,

Is this anxiety interfering with your day to day?

Does this anxiety stop you from doing the things you love?

Anxiety can look different for everyone experiencing. Healthline describes it as, “You may feel out of control, like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body.”, in an article all about anxiety.

In their article, they listed a few symptoms you could see in anxiety; increased heart rate, rapid breathing, restlessness, trouble concentrating, and difficulty falling asleep.


Depression is defined as a consistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest.

Like anxiety, all people can experience depression to some degree. Doctors recommend seeking helpful aids like familial or friend support, even for slight depression, to prevent it from snowballing. Just talking the sadness or negative feelings out can make a huge difference.

It becomes something more dangerous and urgent when, again, it affects you ability to complete day to day tasks and if you want to cause harm to yourself or others. In that situation, you shouldn’t take you depression lightly, you should immediately seek help or guidance.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s article on depression, there can be so many symptoms and indicators of depression. These include; angry outbursts, tiredness or lack of energy, trouble thinking, reduced or increased appetite, and lost of interest in normally enjoyable activities.

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in people in response to a traumatic or emotionally disturbing event.

Everyone one has a ‘fight or flight’ response to traumatic events, the ability to recover from a ‘fight or flight’ response naturally is what distinguishes it from PTSD. A ‘fight or flight’ response is the body’s normal reaction to a strange or new situation, to fight in defense or run in offense. Those with PTSD usually are still stressed or in fear long after the traumatic event.

According to the article on PTSD, written on the National Institute of Mental Health’s website, the symptoms would need to last over a month and must be severe enough that the symptoms interfere with a person’s personal relationships and work in order to be characterized as PTSD.

The symptoms for PTSD can look like; flashbacks, bad dreams, avoiding any person, place, or thing that remind of the traumatic event, being easily startled, angry outbursts, negative thoughts, and trouble with memory regarding the traumatic event.

Seeking Help for Mental Illnesses

If you suspect you or even someone you know has Anxiety, Depression, or PTSD, there are numerous ways or getting help.

The often easiest route is to find a trusting confidant, family or friend. When you talk to people you get the chance to vent, you get to say what’s bothering you out loud. Sometimes hearing things aloud or even hearing the perspective of an ‘outsider’ can provide a sense of clarity or at least get you closer to a resolution.

Sometimes getting advice from a trusting confidant can do more harm than help. In this situation, we recommend you opt for a professional; therapist or psychologist. When going to a professional therapist, you should know what to expect. These professionals often specialize in different therapy styles, a consultation if available should help you determine if it should effective for you.

All in all, therapist are here to help you create goals and help you troubleshoot the maintenance of said goals so long as you keep a client/professional relationship with one therapist.

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If you prefer not to go the traditional doctor route for care, there are other options. There are holistic professionals in medicine, they practice healing through natural herbs, medicines and such.

You could also try self healing through proper nutrition, physical activity, and meditation.


Mental illness is more common in the black community than we’ve been led to believe. The lie that mental health isn’t real is causing long term harm to our community.

The most common mental illnesses you might see are anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder. We’ve described what these illnesses are and what they can look like. We encourage you to further educate yourself and others, share this article while you’re at it.

Managing mental illness can be as simple as seeking help via familial support, professional therapy, holistic health care, or self medicating.

What’s another common mental illness you see in the black community that you would add to this list?

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