Black Americans are 20 percent more likely to report serious psychological distress than whites, according to the US HHS Office of Minority Health. We are also more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than white people. And although the statistic that black Americans teenagers are less likely to die from suicide seems encouraging at first, the reality is that black teenagers are actually attempting suicide more often than their white counterparts—the only difference is their suicide attempts are more likely to fail.
Statistics show that it’s not just black youth suffering from mental illness. Instead, these issues persist throughout adolescence and adulthood, with black women being one of the most neglected and undertreated demographics in the United States. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin discovered that poverty, parenting, as well as racial and gender discrimination place black women make black women more vulnerable to diseases like major depressive disorder.
Now that we know the unfortunate facts that are black women in America are extremely susceptible to mental illness, it’s important to focus on the factors behind this data and dedicate ourselves to doing what we can to fix this epidemic.
Racism, colorism, featurism and texturism affect our self-image and our sense of worth and identity. The media plays a crucial role in the formation of one’s self-esteem and it’s clear that western media is playing a heavy role in crushing the hopes and pride of black women. Those who fit within the media’s standard of beauty are collectively more likely to report higher sense of value in oneself, while those who fall short of the Eurocentric beauty standard (as black women do), find themselves tirelessly working to assimilate to the standard of beauty at their own expense.