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Mental health problems and suicide
Money problems, health problems, and the loss of loved ones are all sources of stress, worry, and sadness. During stressful times, feeling sad, worried, or anxious for a little while is normal. But it's not normal to feel this way a lot of the time. Ongoing feelings of sadness and numbness can be signs of depression. Constant worrying that won't go away can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. These feelings are not just "in your head" or a sign of weakness. Mental health problems, such as anxiety and mood disorders, are real illnesses, just like diabetes or heart disease. They can cause changes in your brain and body chemistry.
Treatment can help people with mental health problems to feel better. But only 1 in 3 African-Americans who need mental health care get it. This may be partly due to lack of trust in the medical community. Or African-American women may not know the symptoms of mental health problems or know when to get help. Some people wrongly view mental illness as a sign of weakness or a loss of faith. Other reasons could include not having insurance or not being able to get to the doctor. No matter the reason, lack of mental health care means that African-Americans bear a high burden of disability related to mental health problems.
Getting help is important. Unlike most disabling physical illnesses, mental illness often begins early in life. In fact, recent research shows that African-American teenage girls are at high risk for suicide. The sooner a mental health problem is discovered, the better the chance for a full recovery.
Remember: Mental illnesses are real, and treatment can help. If emotional problems are interfering with work, school, relationships, or home life, see a doctor.
Read more from womenshealth.gov
Mental Health — This section of womenshealth.gov provides information on taking care of your mental health throughout the different stages of your life.
Explore other publications and websites
African American Resources (Copyright © National Alliance on Mental Illness) — This website features links to several mental health fact sheets, publications, and organizations specifically for African-Americans.
African American Suicide Fact Sheet (Copyright © American Association of Suicidology) — This publication provides statistical information about suicide rates among African-Americans and what can be done do to reduce these rates.
Bipolar Disorder and African Americans (Copyright © Mental Health America) — Many African-Americans with bipolar disorder are not getting the treatment they need. But with proper treatment, people can control bipolar mood swings and lead fulfilling lives. This fact sheet discusses the symptoms and treatments of bipolar disorder.
Depression and African Americans — Not “Just the Blues” (Copyright © Mental Health America) — This fact sheet explains clinical depression in African-American women. It answers some commonly asked questions about depression and provides resources for additional information.
Mental Health Services Locator — This website will help you locate mental health treatment facilities and support services in your state.
Connect with other organizations
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, HHS
Office of Minority Health, HHS
Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center), SAMHSA, HHS
Content last updated May 18, 2010.
Resources last updated May 18, 2010.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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