Recognizing that communities of color have very specific challenges around mental health awareness and stigma, as well as access to care, Deconstructing Stigma and the Boston chapter of the NAACP are partnering to address these areas of concern.
The NAACP approached McLean Hospital about partnering after seeing the hospital’s award-winning public awareness campaign, Deconstructing Stigma. While stigma around mental health is a challenge in all cultures, the shame and judgment regarding mental illness in the African American community is extensive and prevents individuals from seeking treatment for their mental illnesses. Research indicates that African Americans believe that mild depression or anxiety would be considered “crazy” in their social circles. Furthermore, many believe that discussions about mental illness would not be appropriate even among family.
As part of the collaboration with the Boston chapter of the NAACP, McLean hosted an emotional health and wellness fair in June 2018 in Roxbury. Several hundred members of the greater Boston community joined us for this first-ever event. McLean clinicians headed by Dr. Christine Crawford provided free and confidential mental health screenings to more than 70 people, while other hospital staff were on hand to talk about our anti-stigma work in the community and provide guidance on identifying local and community resources to address mental health needs.
Deconstructing Stigma now also includes a campaign targeted at communities of color and focused on addressing some of the deepest misconceptions among the African American community about mental health. Through this campaign, African American volunteers from the Boston area agreed to publicly share their own experience with mental illness. These larger-than-life images and accompanying stories are being included in displays throughout Boston and in installations worldwide.
Facts About African American Mental Health
- Adult African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious psychological distress than adult whites
- Adult African Americans living below poverty are three times more likely to report serious psychological distress than those living above poverty
- Adult African Americans are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than are adult whites
- While African Americans are less likely than white people to die from suicide as teenagers, African American teenagers are more likely to attempt suicide than are white teenagers
- Between 1993 and 2012, suicide among African American children across the United States nearly doubled