Depression in the black community is a serious issue, but is long neglected by many of us. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, 54 percent of all Americans consider depression to be a personal weakness. While I am not one to distinguish between the cases where depression is imagined or chemically-based, I can certainly argue that it is a problem. It is also a huge personal challenge, regardless of the source.
Personally, I was severely depressed in high school. The depression stemmed from self-esteem issues and a lack of guidance. My older brother figure was in and out of prison, so the lack of mentorship, along with typical challenges of high school, made me nearly suicidal. I then found that a simple commitment to optimistic thinking got rid of my depression for good.
But for some, it’s not always so simple. Delores Jones, in this interview with Dr. Elaina George, describes her bout with depression. Delores’ mother was murdered at the age of 21 and she was then raised by her grandmother. Eventually, her grandmother became addicted to crack, so Delores struggled through the hardships that many children of drug addicts must endure. Delores overcame her struggles and eventually went on the Oprah Winfrey Show to tell her story.
Delores is not alone when it comes to the challenges of depression. Depression affects 18.8 million Americans (9.5 percent of the population). Shockingly, pre-schoolers are the fastest growing marketing for anti-depressants, with more than one million of them taking the drugs. Also, 23 percent of all children and 30 percent of all women are depressed and 41 percent of all women are embarrassed to seek help.
What makes matters worse is that most African Americans are too embarrassed to seek help. Over 92 percent of depressed African American males are ashamed of seeking help. This is a serious problem.