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Let’s talk about the Black youth mental health crisis








February 15, 2024

Our society has come a long way in destigmatizing the mental health conversation. We’re talking about our struggles, more of us are seeking treatment, and we’ve admitted that we’re in the midst of an actual mental health crisis. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do — namely, when it comes to equitable access.  

Although race does not determine the likelihood of someone having a mental health diagnosis, Black communities unequivocally face unique challenges that can impact their mental health and access to quality care. 

For instance, the suicide death rate among Black youth has been found to be increasing faster than any other racial/ethnic group. In fact, twelve of every 100,000 Black 18-24-year-olds died by suicide in 2020 (during the pandemic, the rate increased). 

Moreover, the intersections of racism and other forms of systemic discrimination can further complicate the issues that surface, such as lack of culturally appropriate interventions, distrust of the healthcare system, pervasive racial stereotypes, and a shortage of diversified mental health professionals. 

The current landscape of pediatric mental health access for Black children and teens demands action. Change can often be frustratingly slow and can make you feel helpless in this realm. But one of the most tangible things you can do is educate yourself and empower your children and teens with that knowledge in the hopes that greater awareness will ultimately positively impact these statistics. 

Black voices to listen to and learn from 

Our team of clinical care providers has compiled a list of resources and thought leaders that can offer you important knowledge, history, and modern perspectives. And they can help you and your family better understand the Black experience, cultural histories, and actionable ways to get involved in the mental health space and beyond. Consider tapping into, supporting, and sharing these individuals and organizations. By doing so, you’ll likely gain different perspectives, valuable resources, and everyday inspiration. 

  • Mina B, LMSW — Self-care and mental health educator  
  • BEAM — (Black Emotional and Mental Health collective) National training, movement building, and grant-making organization dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black and marginalized communities
  • Black Mental Health Alliance — Information and resources to connect people with culturally competent mental health professionals
  • Black Women’s Health Imperative — Advancing health equity and social justice for Black women through policy, advocacy, education, research, and leadership development.
  • Dianne Bondy — Author, podcaster, yoga teacher, and educator
  • Danielle Coke — Helping you do good daily through art and words about hope, empathy, and justice 
  • For Harriet—  A Black feminist community YouTube channel 
  • Garden Marcus — Wellness educator and author of How to Grow
  • Nedra Glover Tawwab — Author and relationship and boundaries expert
  • Morgan Harper Nicols — An autistic multidisciplinary artist and storyteller
  • Dr. Thema — American Psychological Association President, psychologist, host of Homecoming podcast, author, and TEDx Speaker
  • Therapy for Black girls — An online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls

It is important for everyone to have access to culturally competent and sensitive mental health care, regardless of race or ethnicity. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder, it is important to seek help. 

Bend Health offers access to comprehensive, collaborative care, including behavior care specialists, coaches, therapists, and psychiatric providers. If you need more immediate assistance, please dial 9-8-8 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Or you can text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

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