Why Black America’s Battle With Mental Health Is Failing

older african american man looking out of window

Many in the field would say that the disparities in mental health services for African-Americans are detrimental to the state of black people’s public health. But why?

Back in medical school, Dr. Carl Bell knew the least about mental health disorders, which is why he wanted to focus on psychiatrists rather than other medical practices.

He is now the CEO and president of the Community Health Council and director of the Institute for Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He has dedicated much of his career to the treatment and prevention of mental health disorders among African-Americans—a service that remains underserved and underfunded.

“It’s really hard getting mental health services in black communities,” says Bell. “These services are a scarcity, because there is no consideration for poor people with mental illnesses.”

Bell says there is little to no research on how to properly treat blacks suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, drug and substance abuse, and other mental illnesses, mainly because no one has devoted time to understanding the social and cultural issues affecting poor black communities. Access to good health care and modern treatment is a major factor as well.

A new national report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reveals that 20% (45.9 million) of American adults age 18 and older experienced a mental illness last year. The rate of mental illness was more than twice as high among young adults ages 18-25 than it was for adults age 50 and up. And women were more likely than men to have been diagnosed with a mental illness in 2011 (23% vs. 16.8%).

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Nick Cannon Quits Radio Show Due To Blood Clots

Nick Cannon(BlackDoctor.org) — Less than two months after being hospitalized for kidney issues around the holidays, Cannon revealed he was recently released from the hospital for blood clots in his lungs.

Siting his ongoing health, the “America’s Got
Talent” host (whose credits also include actor, DJ, radio personality
and rapper) announced that he’s stepping down from his post as host of
the Rollin’ with Nick Cannon show on New York’s 92.3 radio station. February 17, 2012 is his last day.

“I have been in the hospital since Friday, and actually, it’s quite serious,” said Cannon. “The doctors found blood clots in my lungs and said if I don’t slow down
and stop working so hard then it’s a wrap! And because of the blood
clots in my lungs, I also had an enlarged ventricle in my heart. I was actually trying to downplay it a lot and not go to the hospital because I was having a lot of pain in my back and I thought it was the typical kidney pain that I had been experiencing, but I thought it had been a little bit heightened.”

The America’s Got Talent judge said his kidney situation is better these days, but his lowered immune system, and his traveling may have contributed to the blood clot situation.

“My antibodies in my immune system were attacking my organs and it made my body even weaker,” said Cannon. “And I travel a lot, I fly a lot. Anyone who flies a lot can be a victim to possibly getting blood clots ’cause it can start in your legs, or your lower back, but that, on top of my previous condition, actually made me more prone to this.”

Cannon said his condition could have been more serious if he hadn’t been physically fit.

“My doctor was like, ‘Luckily, you’re in shape, because most people who get blood clots in their lungs can’t breathe and they stop breathing, like, forever,'” he recounted.

The radio host said it was a tough time for his wife, Mariah Carey, who, over the weekend, was mourning the loss of Whitney Houston.

“My wife had to deal with that – not only taking care of me, and being concerned and worried – but also having to lose a close friend and her having to deal with that,” Cannon said.

Preventing Blood Clots

Currently, it is estimated that 25,000 people who are admitted to hospital die from preventable blood clotting. How can you prevent them?

You can help prevent blood clots if you:

• Wear loose-fitting clothes, socks, or stockings.
• Raise your legs 6 inches above your heart from time to time.
• Wear special stockings (called compression stockings) if prescribed.
• Do exercises your doctor gives you.
• Change your position often, especially during a long trip.
• Do not stand or sit for more than 1 hour at a time.
• Eat less salt.
• Try not to bump or hurt your legs and try not to cross them.
• Do not use pillows under your knees.
• Raise the bottom of your bed 4 to 6 inches with blocks or books.
• Take all medicines the doctor prescribes you.

For more information about blood clot prevention: The Silent Killer In Your Veins.