Reports say Black people suffering more from substance abuse, mental health issues

Reports say Black people suffering more from substance abuse, mental health issues

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that African Americans are at an increased risk of being hospitalized by COVID-19, but another threat is posing a real risk too.

A recent report by the National Alliance on Mental Health shows more than 60 percent of African Americans believe mental health concerns are a sign of weakness. One drug and alcohol counselor explained what needs to be done to change public perception.

Sha’na Gatrey has been in active recovery since January 2019.

”I knew that I had more to do so I decided against all odds, it was like rock bottom for me,” said Gatrey.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration nearly 90 percent of African Americans do not get the appropriate care necessary to treat a substance abuse disorder.

”People of color still suffer the worst because its harder to just get the help that you need,” said Gatrey.

Drug and alcohol counselor, Melissa Hardin, says one reason Black people do not get the appropriate care is because the stigma around mental health conditions is still pervasive in the the Black community.

”There’s a thing that’s been in the Black community for years and its due to lack of trust which is understood, what happens in the house stays in the house,“ said Hardin. ”Mental health and substance abuse falls under mental health is looked at as oh you’re crazy or something is wrong with you. You’re not strong. You’re weak. You can’t handle it. All of these isms that we have as a community is very harmful.”

Harmful enough for African Americans not to get the proper treatment.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health 63 percent of African Americans believe that a mental health condition is a personal sign of weakness.

Hardin says one has to be willing to seek help.

”You have to make the first step to raise your hand and say hey I need help,” said Hardin.

And like Gatrey, know that recovery is possible.

”Its still a daily process because my recovery is a daily thing just like life,” said Gatrey.

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