This story originally appeared on our Medium publication on September 15, 2015.
Our Stories in Light is a podcast sharing the stories of black Americans who have suffered or are suffering from psychological disorders. In it, real individuals who have battled depression, anxiety, and PTSD speak from experience and encourage those who are suffering in silence to understand that they are not alone.
“I always wondered why my friends had so much joy, so much happiness… there was a huge difference between the way I saw the world and the way people around me saw the world.” — Minaa B
The topic of mental health carries a stigma in many cultures. Within the black community, the taboo and fear of being labeled “crazy” is even higher than it is for the general population — despite mental health issues afflicting black Americans at a higher-than-average rate. As of 2013, blacks only represented around 13 percent of Americans, but government data indicates that blacks account for well over 19 percent of Americans suffering from a mental illness.
And the data only accounts for those that have actually acknowledged and reported that they have a mental illness. An unknown number of individuals remain uncounted, suffering in silence.
For today’s episode, I sat down with 25-year-old Minaa B. of New York. We spoke candidly about her battle with depression, anxiety, and self-harm, the fear she had of telling others about her condition, how socioeconomic inequality negatively affects black mental health, and her advocacy work through her organization which aims to help people overcome mental health issues, Respect Your Struggle.