Shedding Light On Mental Illness: No Blacks Will Go There

mental illness1

A black gunman killed two journalists in Virgina this week.  A tragedy for so many people especially those in the journalism industry.  The man’s former employer and employees spoke out about his disturbing behavior during his time at the station.  The comments were all similar:  he was intimidating, aggressive and a persistent “victim”. I’m no doctor, but it’s likely this man threw up red flags for mental illness or personality disorder.

Blacks have always looked down on mental illness.  It was a topic hushed away.  White people went to “shrinks” and black people went to church.  Prayer and church attendance were supposed to push out any crazy thoughts or behavior.  Christian faith is what helped many slaves mentally endure another day.  Blacks have been tied to their faith for generations.

Unfortunately, prayer is not enough to alleviate the issues within some people.  Many blacks lived in denial for years instead of getting help for loved ones.  Some people need counselors, therapy, and medication.  The reports regarding the gunman’s behavior were striking for me.  I know many men personally who have the same “persistent victim” attitude.  The men I know are not violent but were raised in environments that didn’t question their narcissism.  As I got to know these men better I learned based on their relationships with their parents that they all had something in common:  at least one narcissistic parent. Every one of them had a parent that didn’t respect boundaries, had a grandiose attitude about themselves, and  couldn’t take an ounce of criticism.   I know this because I witnessed it and it was disturbing.

I think we do even more of a disservice to black men when it comes to mental illness.    I think “narcissistic” behavior in black men is not seen as a problem.  It is a problem – it is a personality disorder.  It is under the same umbrella as a mental disorder.  Yet, in the black community the more intimidating and aggressive you appear proves your manhood.  These men never got reprimanded in their youth for their critical nature toward others or their lack of empathy. The idea of empathy isn’t even in their vocabulary.

Black women suffer from mental illness as well.  Women weren’t supposed to talk about their problems either.  Some were locked away until they could “get it together”.  If a woman suffered sexual abuse they were supposed to pretend it never happened and just move on.  That is what many were taught :  pray and then move on.  No one was encouraged to get help.  Therapy is costly.

We need more people speaking out about mental illness in the black community.  The man from Virginia who killed two of his former co-workers and injured the person they were interviewing needed someone to intervene on his behalf.  He should have never had access to a gun because he was clearly not mentally stable.  If a person is consistent with disturbing behavior that is the biggest red flag they can wave.

It starts with the parents.  Please give your children boundaries.  They must be taught coping and interpersonal skills.  The most important lesson to teach your children is that they are not the center of the universe. All children need to be taught how to interact with others, be accountable for their actions, and empathy.

I’m a Christian but I still believe in therapy.  Some people need more assistance than others to make it through the day.  I talk to my friends that I see are having problems. I don’t assume it’s “no big deal” and just pray it away.  More people need to step in when they see friends and family act out of character.  It is your issue!  I don’t know why people today want to just back away from everything like they don’t see anything.  Everyone thinks it’s not their issue to deal with – yes it is – it is a loved one so you should make it your issue to get them help. Make it your mission to monitor their behavior and call them on their wrongdoing when they act out.

Lives will be saved if we come together for the common good.

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