Mental illness is our dirty little secret

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(NNPA)—I’m tired, my sisterfriend says. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on. As I hear her I have a couple of choices. One is to tell her to get with her pastor and pray; the other is to tell her to get real with her illness. Running her to her pastor takes her to a familiar place. Pushing her to help takes her out of her comfort zone. When my beloved brothers and sisters share that they are stymied in the way they live their lives, I don’t mind praying and encouraging spiritual counsel, but I do mind ignoring the medicinal help that could assist my sisterfriend.

So my sister is sighing her pain, and I am wondering what to do. There are few that will hear a Black woman in a Black community, strumming her pain, questioning her faith. According to the National Associations of Mental Health more than 4 percent of African-Americans have considered suicide. Most of them are African-American women.

Mental health is our nation’s dirty little secret, and if it is whispered in the nation at large, it is a silent scream in the African-American community. We are afraid, ashamed, frightened to own up to it, using our own lingo (s’kerd, shamed) to wrap ourselves around the fear that goes with “coming out” on mental illness.

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