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Recent suicides show need for mental health care in Black community

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 9:10 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Former Miss USA and Extra correspondent Cheslie Kryst and Actor and Director Regina King’s son Ian Alexander Junior both died recently by suicide. Kryst and Alexander were both young, in the spotlight, and people of color.

Their deaths have shown a tragic trend in the African American community, one that’s become worst since the pandemic.

“The pandemic wasn’t just a physical health issue; it also became a mental health issue,” said Uduak Afangideh.

A therapist in Montgomery, Afangideh, has seen an increase in patients of color. Many of her clients, she said, are afraid to tell their family that they see a therapist.

“Our culture, our people, we don’t talk about mental health, and it’s interesting to me because I am Nigerian, and I see the roots of that in Africa. Even though it’s been years since the African Americans came over, they still have that as part of them,” she said.

Statistics show this mental health stigma needs to change immediately. According to the Suicide Prevention Resources Center, suicide rates have decreased with Americans. But, black suicide rates have gone up, and young adult suicide is highest among African Americans. Some reports cite mental health issues, racism, and bullying as contributing factors.

“Those of us who are therapists, especially therapists of color, we have a lot of work to do talk about it, to normalize it for our people,” Afangideh said.

Changes in the world of therapy, including virtual sessions, insurance coverage, and more, have made therapy more accessible, and therapists hope it will continue to lead to change.

“Going to talk to a therapist should be as normal as going to the doctor if you have a headache or flu,” she said, “and people who have therapists need to tell others and spread the word.”

To learn more about Afangideh Therapy, visit https://thealabamatherapist.com/.

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