Why Do Black Men Hide Mental Illness?
HealthCentral / January 6, 2022
Studies show one in 10 Black men is living with depression, but experts believe many more are struggling in silence. Here’s how you can help.
If you think a Black man in your life is struggling mentally, look for signs such as drastic changes in their mood or energy level. Also pay attention to shifts in their sleeping and eating habits. If you notice any significant changes in your loved one, it may be time to act.
Approach him in a nonjudgmental way and ask if he is OK and if he would like to talk about anything, says Jonathan J. Goldfinger, M.D., CEO of Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services located in Culver City, CA. Ask if there is anything you can do to help him, and reassure him that you are there to help, without judgment. (Definitely put your phone down, make eye contact, and let your friend know that you are listening, he adds.)
If the person does not respond well, try again at another time, but don’t push. Taking too-aggressive an approach could cause him to have a strong reaction or shut down completely, says Dr. Goldfinger. “Instead, create the space for him to talk about it [when he’s ready],” he suggests.
Also pay attention for the signs of suicidal thoughts. If a person is getting his final life affairs in order or is saying things like ‘I wish I wasn’t here,’ ask him directly in a non-judgmental tone if he has ever thought of committing suicide. Don’t be surprised, says Dr. Goldfinger, if he answers you with a “yes.”
“Don’t pass go or do anything else. Call the national suicide prevention hotline with them,” Dr. Goldfinger says. (Anyone can reach out to the hotline, with a family member or on their own, anytime. Those who call the suicide crisis line are at lower risk for suicide than those who call 911.) The most important thing is that you “tell the person that they matter and that you care,” says Dr. Goldfinger.
To reach the National Suicide Prevention hotline, call 1-800-273-TALK; it’s open 24/7 and available in all languages.
Read the full article at HealthCentral: