Only one in three African-Americans who need mental healthcare receive it. The numbers are even grimmer when we consider Black men’s mental wellness.
For the past few decades, there has been growing interest in improving Black men’s health and the health disparities affecting them. Yet, the health of Black men consistently ranks lowest across nearly all groups in the United States.
Evidence on the health and social causes of morbidity and mortality among Black men has been narrowly concentrated on public health problems (e.g., violence, prostate cancer, and HIV/AIDS) and determinants of health (e.g., education and male gender socialization).
Author Bell Hooks’ work We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity discusses the lack of love and acceptance that Black men face, creating an emotional crisis.
Many Black men have not been told how to process and talk about their emotional experiences, furthering a sense of isolation, anger, and resentment. For these men, this creates an emotional volatility that can sometimes manifest in seeming “shut down” in relationships and friendships. At its worst, this budding resentment can manifest in outward expression of anger, aggression, and even violence. This is discussed further in Charlie Donaldson’s and Randy Flood’s book Mascupathy: Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood.
Many men (arguably most) struggle with the idea of being openly vulnerable and sharing their emotions with their community, their partner, loved ones or even those closest to them.
As evidenced by the tragic murder of George Floyd last summer, it’s been proven time and time again that Black men too often pay the price with their lives in fatal police encounters. But there’s another price: their minds.
This is something that Kevin Dedner, founder of the mental health platform Hurdle, knew too well.
“After years of working in the public health sector, I was familiar with the invisible barriers to mental wellness in the Black community, particularly with men,” he said.
Overall, Black men have a lower average life expectancy and higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression than their white counterparts.
The Census Bureau showed 41% of Black Americans screened positive for clinically significant signs of depressive disorders — a 5% spike in the aftermath of the public video of George Floyd’s death. This number represents roughly 1.5 million people.