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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Though the conversation around mental health is growing, we still have a lot of work to do to end the stigma around it.

Life can be tough with or without rational explanation. One’s mind can oscillate between healthy and unhealthy thoughts, even uncontrollably.

While Black Americans experience a wide range of attitudes toward mental health treatment, there’s a stigma surrounding mental illness that prevents some people from getting help.

It’s important to consider how the stigma—and the forces that create the stigma—may make it difficult for individuals to reach out to a mental health professional.

Some communities accept the idea that mental illnesses are health problems that require treatment. But in other communities, there’s a serious stigma that implies a mental health problem is a sign of weakness and should be kept hidden from others.


If you are experiencing a decline in your mental health or you suspect you may have symptoms of a mental illness, reach out to someone. You might start by talking to your doctor about treatment options.

If you suspect a loved one is experiencing a mental health issue, talk to them. Open conversations about mental health can help break down the stigma and encourage more people to seek help.


Asking for help is OK. Never think otherwise, despite your struggle. If you need help, mental health supports can be found here:

Text HOME to 741741 to reach a Crisis Counselor.

You will then text back and forth with the Crisis Counselor. You never have to share anything you do not want to.

The Crisis Counselor will help you sort through your feelings by asking questions, empathizing, and actively listening.

The conversation typically ends when you and the Crisis Counselor both feel comfortable deciding that you are in a “cool,” safe place.

After the conversation, you will receive an optional survey about your experience. This helps us help you and others like you!

The goal of any conversation is to get you to a calm, safe place.

Sometimes that means providing you with a referral to further help, and sometimes it just means being there and listening. A conversation usually lasts anywhere from 15-45 minutes.


211 – Crisis Help Line

National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI

Gryphone Place – Kalamazoo, MI

Emergency Room


These books may help reduce the mental health stigma among African Americans.

The Color of HOPE: African American Mental Health in the Church

The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve

Community Mental Health Engagement with Racially Diverse Populations

Mind Matters: A Resource Guide to Psychiatry for Black Communities (Volume 1)

Black Mental Health: Patients, Providers, and Systems


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