This Sunday October 10th is World Mental Health day, an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. Whilst conversations around mental health have become far more common than they used to be, there is still a way to go to remove the stigma around this topic in the Black community.
Rates of mental health problems can be higher in the Black community. For example, statistics show that Black men are more likely to have experienced a psychotic disorder in the last year than White men and Black people are four times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act than White people, which is why this conversation is necessary
We care about our Black men and wanted to look at ways we can provide valuable tips on how Black men’s mental health can better be cared for. We are in no way trained professionals in this field and would strongly advise you visit websites like Black Mind Matters UK for professional support, who are offering free counselling to Black people. Here are a few things we have learned through research and reading that we hope will be useful to you too
1. Take a break
We know this feels counterintuitive at a time when we are compelled to act. At a time when taking a break feels like a luxury we simply can not afford. We completely understand that but we are no good to others unless we are mentally strong, physically healthy and spiritually fully charged. Taking a break to breathe, to recoup, to recharge, is vitally important and helps minimize the risk of your burning out.
2. Open up and talk
We are always taught to be strong and to soldier through and therefore are more reluctant to admit when we need help or support. Speaking openly about our feelings can sometimes make us feel that we come across as weak. However, speaking up is an important part of taking care of our mental health as individuals and as a collective. Speak to family, friends, professionals, if possible, to help navigate your feelings and emotions and avoid them building up.
3. Try meditation to reduce stress
Largely seen as “holistic” or “new age” meditation is often dismissed, however there are real, scientifically backed studies on the benefits of meditation.
Regular meditation physically changes both the function and structure of the brain. Whereas a gym workout improves your body and builds muscle, regular meditation builds gray matter which helps manage anxiety, reduces stress, promotes emotional health, enhances self awareness and lengthens attention span.
It can be difficult to simply pause and be still in times of chaos, however if anyone needs ways to reduce stress and improve our mental well being it’s Black men.
We recommend starting at 5 minutes and working your way up to 25 minutes per day (Or more). Get started with a meditation app or simply search “Guided Meditation” on YouTube.
4. Write a journal to help manage your thoughts
If you are someone who finds it difficult to discuss inner thoughts with others, journaling can still provide some form of release. Whether consciously or unconsciously our minds are always ticking away and it’s important for us to work through and detangle these inner thoughts and feelings that may swirl in our minds.
Allowing your thoughts to flow with 10 mins of silent journaling can help you to address and reflect on what may have been troubling you deep down and more importantly find solutions. Many of the greatest minds have kept a journal of their thoughts, so as with meditation this is nothing to sniff at.
In times where we are constantly bombarded with content, media and information it is vital to take these moments to declutter our mind.
This Sunday we will be having an open discussion on our Instagram page with Aaron and Roi at 11am about how we as Black men can learn to better care for our mental health.
What are some of the ways you have learned to nurture, protect and manage your mental health? Comment below