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Mental Health in the Black Community

By: Jazmine Devone

“According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are

20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.

Common mental health disorders among African Americans include: Major depression [and]

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)” according to National Alliance on Mental

Illness.

Being aware of our mental health in the black community is critical yet overlooked too often. “I

think the lack of representation comes from disparities in the availability and affordability of

mental health services in primarily African-American demographic areas. Also, there could be an

underlying cultural notion that discourages or in some way dismisses sufferers of mental illness,”

said Elizabeth M. Taylor, senior psychology student and President of Active Minds.

“It turns out that black men in general do not get treatment for mental illness at the same rate as

other sufferers, though their rates of mental illness are just as high,” according to John Donvan of

National Public Radio. This was brought to public attention after Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s recent

diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Surprisingly, Jackson was ashamed of his illness and kept it a

secret for a while before finally seeking treatment.

Why be ashamed of something you cannot control? It is important for African Americans – male

or female – to visit a physician regularly to maintain good health and remain familiar with their

bodies. Although depression is the most common form of mental illness in African Americans,

others still do exist.

For example, there are speculations that birth vaccinations were giving black children Autism

Spectrum Disorder. “I know there are certain drugs/ medicines that can have terrible side effects

and children can be born with Autism. I feel like that’s a horrible speculation, and I hope it’s not

true because if it is then that’s somewhat similar to the Tuskegee experiment. Doctors are not

supposed to give medicine of any kind without consent. That is why it is very important for

mothers to research and understand what vaccines the doctor is trying to give her and her child,”

said Taylor.

What was the Tuskegee experiment? The study initially involved 600 black men – 399 with

syphilis, 201 who did not have the disease. The study was conducted without the benefit of

patients' informed consent. Researchers told the men they were being treated for "bad blood," a

local term used to describe several ailments, including syphilis, anemia, and fatigue. In truth,

they did not receive the proper treatment needed to cure their illness according to Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention.

Awareness of your health in general is pivotal. According to Health and Human Services Office

of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health

problems than the general population. Common mental health disorders among African

Americans include: Major depression, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), suicide

(among young African American men), and Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because

According to National Alliance on Mental Health Illness, African Americans are also more likely

to commit violent crimes.

It is important for African Americans to be knowledgeable of these historical and current events

regarding mental health.

For more information on mental health check out the Suicide Awareness event on Sept. 21 st

outside of Williams Dining Hall from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. hosted by Active Minds.

 

Photo courtesy of: www.exposingtruth.com

The “Perfect” Body: Video Model vs. Fitness Expert

By: Jazmine Devone

What’s the difference between the image of a video model and a fitness expert? For years, the role of a

video model has been shamed. From the scarce clothing they wear to their curvy figures. However, gym

experts are praised and regarded highly for their physique which is similar yet different.

It is understandable why the video model parades around on camera with little to no clothing for

money, but the gym experts often pose for social media with sports bras and spandex shorts in hopes

for publicity. “A few stereotypical views I receive are stuck-up, raunchy, and snobby,” said Maya Kinlaw

(Miyani Scott), a video model residing in Georgia.”

While some video models are accused of cosmetic surgery, Maya hasn’t had any. “It’s not beneficial, nor

healthy. It could boost one’s state of mind psychologically,” said Hermene Westmoreland about

cosmetic surgery, Aggie Fit program coordinator.”

The Aggie Fit program is for students, faculty, and staff. The program’s purpose is weight loss, building

confidence, behavior choices and reducing stress. Health is the goal, not image. The program currently

has two sessions Monday through Thursday, 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. “I’m all about people improving

their whole-self inside and out,” said Westmoreland.

On Monday the focus is strength, Tuesday is cardio, Wednesday is focused on education, and Thursday

is dedicated to stretching and flexibility. Both roles, video model and fitness expert, usually include

individuals with impeccable figures. However, body shaming often occurs.

It is more common for full figured women to receive hate comments for displaying self-love than

women who are thin. For example, Teyana Taylor’s recent debut in rapper Kanye West’s music video

“Fade,” sparked excitement in the fitness world. Taylor’s incomparable physique caused women

worldwide to create a new “body goal.”

Referring to Westmoreland’s previous comments regarding health as the goal. Why is body image the

goal rather than health? Society’s expectation of women plays an extraordinary role in the way women

perceive themselves.

Today, images in the media project an unrealistic and even dangerous standard of feminine beauty that

can have a powerful influence on the way women view themselves. From the perspective of the mass

media, thinness is idealized and expected for women to be considered "attractive."

In advertisements, television, and music, the "ideal woman" is usually portrayed as tall, white, and thin

with a "tubular" body, and blonde hair, according to Westminster College’s the Myriad.

For most teens, video models are a part of the “ideal” body image. Unrealistic body goals lead these

young women to the gym in hopes of achieving this outrageous body for all of the wrong reasons.

“Mass media's use of such unrealistic models sends an implicit message that in order for a woman to be

considered beautiful, she must be unhealthy. The mindset that a person can never be "too rich or too

thin" is all too prevalent in society, and it makes it difficult for females to achieve any level of

contentment with their physical appearance.

Help to bridge the gap and establish health as the objective. For more information concerning “the

healthy image,” contact Hermene Westmoreland at hmwestmoreland.vendor@ncat.edu or visit her in

the Sebastian Health Center.

The Single Story Perspective

In 2009, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie gave an astounding, eye-opening TED

Talk called “The Danger of a Single Story.” During the TED Talk, Adichie discussed how we

[human beings] all suffer from a “single story” perspective, but what exactly is that? As

beautifully said by Adichie, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with

stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become

the only story.”

We’ve all heard “single stories” throughout our lives and we all are affected or influenced

by them, whether we realize it or not. “All people from New York are rude,” “People who live in

the deep South are racist,” “Mexicans are illegal immigrants.”– Oh yes, we’ve heard them all,

and the list goes on. In this world, there are so many single stories that people have passed down

from generation to generation, culture to culture, and nowadays, through the vast array of

media—including movies, books, television and social media. We, humans, simply hear, read, or

watch something that tells us a one-sided story or stereotype, and we then continue to live our

lives based on what we’ve heard, read, or watched. This is a dangerous way of thinking because

these “single stories” lead to racism, prejudices, strife, hate and limitation.

In the TED Talk given by Adichie, she told the story of her childhood, stating how she

grew up in the nation of Nigeria, upper-middle class, with parents who were educators, and she

lived well. Adichie came to the United States to attend college in which she had a white

roommate. Upon first meeting each other, Adichie’s roommate asked her about her “tribal

music,” and believed many negative things about how life in Africa really was. Adichie states

how she politely corrected her naive roommate, telling her that life in Africa was not at all how it

is portrayed in America through the media and that she didn’t listen to tribal music but Mariah

Carey.

Should Adichie’s roommate be blamed for thinking that way? In my opinion: no.

Assuming her roommate was naïve and had no ill intent, I can understand why she viewed Africa

in that harsh light being that she grew up in America. Let’s be honest, here in America, Africa is

displayed to us through the media as a desolate wasteland, filled with safari animals and poor,

oppressed people who are suffering from disease and famine. Most times this negative “image”

of Africa is shown to get people to donate money to various non-profit organizations. While this

may or may not be true in various areas of the continent, this is only one story. If we’re not

careful, this could become the only story. As seldom shown in the media, Africa is filled with

great cities, modern culture, great food, wonderful people and more.

While the example above gives us insight of a negative single story from Adichie’s life,

let’s begin to think about how many “single stories” we each suffer from in our everyday lives.

Are we judging the people around us based on “one story” we’ve heard or maybe one story

we’ve heard multiple times? Could the dangerous plague of people living by “single stories” be

the main influence as to why this world and nation is currently dealing with so many issues?

These are all questions we should seriously ask ourselves and those around us as well.

How many great things could we be limiting ourselves from by living with single stories or

stereotypes? We should all work to challenge ourselves to begin seeking new and positive ways

of thinking about people, places, opportunities, and most importantly, ourselves.

Remember: “Change is not something we do just once, but a lifestyle.”

 

By: Allan Meade