Breaking down barriers to mental health and wellbeing in communities of color
Since 1976, black history month was an annual observance in February to celebrate and honor the accomplishments of Black Americans and their significant role and impact on all facets of life and society throughout United States history. The national theme for 2022 emphasizes the importance of “black health and well-being“. The theme aims not only to recognize the legacy of Black scholars and practicing physicians of Western medicine, but also to raise awareness of inequalities in health and well-being for members of the Black community.
The experience of being Black in America varies wildly, but there are common factors that play a role in health access, diagnoses, and treatment for people of color, especially when it comes to mental health. The main barriers to mental health are stigma, healthcare provider bias and inequity in care, as well as socioeconomic disparities. However, in recent years, a shift is underway to break down barriers to mental health services – and millennials and Gen Z are leading the charge. In fact, according to a study by the American Psychological Association, Gen Zers are more likely to report mental health issues and seek treatment than older Americans.
Samsung is marking the occasion of Black History Month by amplifying young black voices within its employee resource group (ERG) Galaxy of Black Professionals (GBP). Here, Millennials and Gen Z GBP share their insights on reframing mental health and creating positive change by supporting wellness, healing and resilience:
Josh Henry, Professional B2C Sales Management
“Historically, there has always been a stigma surrounding mental health in the black community. Growing up in the religious Deep South, I was always told that those with legitimate mental health issues should just “pray for them to go away.” This belief, along with expectations around black masculinity, was prevalent where I grew up. As a young black man, I learned that men should be strong and stoic at all times. My generation fearlessly opposes this outdated way of thinking. And I believe the best way to improve awareness and change behaviors is to continue to challenge and ultimately eliminate the stigma associated with mental health.
Phylicia Poulson, Retail Operations, Field Sales Manager
“Mental health has been a taboo subject in the black community since long before I was born. From an early age, you are taught to eliminate or suppress feelings of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. Personally, I have chosen to take charge of my well-being. I took a proactive approach, which helped me deal with challenges in a healthy way. For example, I became more aware of my triggers and how to overcome them. I take mental health days to create time for self-care so I can reboot and be the best version of myself. Essentially, your overall well-being starts with your mental well-being.
Jonathan Mingo, Retail Operations, Field Sales Manager
“Being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Seeking advice from medical experts has allowed me to better organize my thoughts and develop habits that are conducive to success as an adult. In the African American community, mental well-being is not necessarily a priority. I think it is imperative that parents watch for signs and symptoms, educate themselves about mental health and arm themselves with an arsenal of tools and resources to help their children overcome their unique challenges.
Jonathan Jones, Retail Operations, B2C Field Sales
“Structural racism leads to significant inequalities in the diagnosis of mental health problems and access to mental health treatment. That’s why it’s so important to have primary care and mental health professionals who can relate to us and who are like us to get the help we need. We should work to place these professionals in our communities where they can engage with young people, encourage those who have suffered from mental health issues to speak out, and create accessible safe spaces, such as virtual therapy sessions, to heal. In short, mental health should matter as much as physical health.