black women mental health needs unmet

May 17, 2008 § Leave a comment

from womens enews

By Shauna Curphey

black women mental health needs unmet

But mental health problems are not confined to low-income women. African American women higher on the socioeconomic ladder experience their own set of pressures, especially in the workplace, where they feel they are often treated as if they do not deserve to be there, said Morrow. As a result, black women struggle with a pressure to out-perform others just to gain acceptance. She used her own career as an example.

“I had to be at the top of my class,” said Morrow in a phone interview, “I was always seeing myself being compared and competing with this white ghost . . . These issues play out in the lives of black folk. It is impacting how they feel about themselves and it is impacting their physical and mental health.”

Sixty percent of African American women have symptoms of depression, according the national study conducted for the Black Women’s Health Imperative. In addition, research indicates that the stress in the lives of African American women contributes to poor physical health. Stress related to racism may underlie the poor diet and resulting obesity among black women and may be associated with the high prevalence of high blood pressure and diabetes, according to the Women of Color Health Data Book.

Lack of insurance also contributes to the low percentage of black women who seek mental health treatment. Nearly one in four African Americans is uninsured. Even among those who have coverage, mental health may not be included in the policy or the cap on covered expenses may be low. But better insurance coverage alone is not enough get more women to seek help. African American women also struggle against the stigma associated with mental-health treatment.

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