Counselor addresses stigmas in getting mental help in minority communities

Black History Month

It was part of a discussion held by the Black Student Union of Youngstown State University

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Black Student Union of Youngstown State University held a discussion Wednesday on mental health in the black community.

Eric King, a licensed professional clinical counselor of Cleveland, came and spoke to the crowd about the stigmas connected to mental health and the black community. He also talked about how things people of color deal with out in the real world can manifest into mental health concerns.

“We still believe that the idea of mental health or mental illness is something that is only the least of these or it’s still something that is contracted by virtue of color, low socioeconomic status. A lot of things that we’re still dealing with,” he said.

King spoke on some of the different challenges both men and women can face.

He said black men are less likely to seek mental health care than women but when they do, it may be because too much has built up.

“A lot of the times, when they come in, they talk about panic attacks as if that’s the only time by which they can show emotions. So over time, what we find out is that they’re not actually having bonafide or actual clinical panic attacks. What they’re actually doing is becoming so full that it’s just exploding at that moment,” he said.

With women, he said it’s sometimes difficult for them to find time to address their mental health needs.

“There’s a lot of pushing down of emotions, or not having time to actually deal with their emotions,” he said.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in three African Americans who needs mental health care actually receives it. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.

King said one message he hopes to continue spreading is it’s normal to feel emotions and express them.

“In working with minorities, and also understanding and helping them feel safe to say, ‘OK, you’re allowed to feel sad, you’re allowed to cry…Everything that you’re feeling right now is normal,’” he said.

Although there may be a stigma associated with mental health, he said there is no shame in receiving care and acknowledging mental health issues.

Anyone seeking counseling or help with mental health needs can reach out to the services listed below:

  • Generations Behavioral Health – Youngstown: 234-232-7500
  • Mahoning County Mental Health: 330-746-2959
  • NAMI Mahoning Valley: 330-727-9268
  • Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board: 330-675-2765

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