Why We Exist

As of 2013, Blacks only represent around 13 percent of the population, but account for about 19 percent of Americans suffering from a mental illness. What’s even more shocking is that the current data only accounts for those that have actually acknowledged and reported that they have a mental illness. Within the Black community in particular, mental illness is often considered taboo, which leads to many feeling ashamed, going undocumented, and most importantly, undiagnosed and untreated.

By listening to the community, we have identified three primary issues plaguing the black community in regards to mental health:

  • Stigma – Within the black community there is a huge stigma that surrounds mental illness. Often people neglect their mental health due to fear of judgement. By sharing real-life stories of those within the community that have suffered from mental illness, the mindset of others can be changed.
  • Preventionary vs. reactionary – Historically, the treatment of any type of illness has been reactionary rather than preventionary. In particular, within the black community, most psychological disorders are linked to socioeconomic disorders.
    • Community issues – By identifying and finding resolutions to the issues within the black community that are causing mental distress, we can help prevent rather than simply react to mental health.
    • Education – The black community needs to be educated on the primary psychological disorders plaguing the community (i.e. depression and PTSD). By educating the community on the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, we can properly treat them, further identify the cause, and aim to prevent them from transcending generations.
  • Treatment & Healthcare
    • Misdiagnosis – Often due to a lack of diversity training, mental health professionals struggle to properly diagnose minority patients. By spreading awareness of this, the goal is to spark implementation of adequate cultural training for professionals.
    • Lack of diversity among providers – It’s estimated that less than three percent of mental healthcare professionals are black. It’s important to note that many blacks feel more comfortable seeing a black doctor than not.
    • Early detection – Exposure to violence, early puberty, excessive discipline, and other factors have been identified as causes of mental health issues among black children (and often later in life in adults).
    • Inadequate healthcare coverage – Many mental health facilities exist in the U.S., however the availability of treatment is disproportionately available to citizens in certain areas. Before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, about 20 percent of blacks were without health insurance. While this number is expected to decrease drastically over the next year or so, there are still areas where the ACA hasn’t been implemented and there are plenty of blacks falling into the “coverage gap.”

Black & Blue Me is a play on words. Black is representative of our culture and background,  while blue stands for the emotional distress that we face. While the “me” is intended to highlight our individuals struggles, we are often reflective of each other, and therefore the “me” is all inclusive.

Black & Blue Me is the first home of all-things related to black mental health. We offer a safe space for individuals to share and read stories about mental health, as well provide resources for learning more about the topic, with both original and aggregated content.

Black & Blue Me was created by Adriele Parker as part of her final thesis/practicum for the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Social Journalism program.