First, before I go into the reasoning behind my controversial title (which is sure to piss some people off), I want you to take a look at the design of the site. I changed the look of the website for the time being. I was getting a little bored with the old layout, and someone suggested that I should make it more fall like, since fall is coming soon. So as you read my post, take a look at the beautiful view of Midtown Atlanta, at Piedmont Park, during the early fall.
Now to the controversy. I wasn’t going to post for the next few days, but I saw a post in one of the Facebook groups that I’m a part of that talked about mental illness. The person in the post was wondering where could he/she go for help if the person didn’t have money or insurance. Not sure if the person was talking about themselves, but that’s not relevant. A lot of people offered good suggestions, but a lot of people also said go to God and He’ll take it all away.
That is a problem for me. A huge problem. Before I get beat up and get the side-eye for what I’m about to say any further, and get rebuked in the name of Jesus, know that I believe in God, and I also believe that having faith and praying does help in dealing with the feelings going through you, if you suffer from mental illness. In other words, having faith is a requirement (although I’m not an overly religious person, but I consider myself spiritual), though that’s easier said than actually believing it. But my problem with telling someone who is dealing with mental illness–especially when they are in a crisis that could be the difference between life or death–to simply go to God doesn’t solve the problem. I will be the first to tell you that when I’m in a crisis, I feel like God is punishing me, so I really don’t want to hear your religious rhetoric. I feel like God isn’t hearing me, and He’s just watching me suffer.
This is particularly a problem in the African-American community. We grow up thinking that the only thing we need for anything is prayer. We don’t need to go see a doctor and get treated for our mental illnesses because all we need to do is get down on your knees and ask God for a “cure”. Again, I believe in God and I believe God can move mountains. But I also believe that God is going to point you in the direction you need to go to help yourself, even if it means sitting on some therapist’s couch and taking medication that sometimes come with more side effects than actual benefits. Yeah, I know. Black people don’t see shrinks. Black people don’t have the time or money. I know. all of that doesn’t matter when you’re in the middle of a mental health crisis.
For some reason, the African-American community tends to ignore that part of the benefits of prayer, but much rather focus strictly on the church-based aspect. This isn’t me just talking out of the side of my neck; this has been researched. Even without scientific and sociological research, you can see it just by looking at your circles. More Black people are starting coming out, disclosing their illnesses or finding themselves in hospitals; voluntarily or involuntarily; our community still seems to be in denial, relying on just one segment of what’s needed to actually treat; not cure, since there’s no cure; mental illnesses.
This is why a lot of Black people find it so hard to go get the help that they need. I can attest to that. This is why it’s so difficult for us to even talk to our friends and families about what’s going through our heads. People, it hurts like hell to be in the position where you can’t talk to anyone because you don’t know how to communicate it, or you already know the answer you’re going to get.
The treatment of mental illness is more than just one-fold. Just as if you’re recovering from a physical condition, treatment requires a team effort. Treatment requires research to understand your condition. It requires a long-term medical and psychiatric treatment plan. It requires the love and support of family and friends. It requires the acknowledgment and acceptance from our faith-based communities, as well as out community as a whole. It requires the prayers and meditations that is always suggested.
So, no, I’m not saying turn away from God. You will never hear me say that. I believe that if you’re suffering from mental illnesses, you need God to get you through. But our community needs to stop thinking that it’s the cure-all, because God created the tools to help us. We need to listen to Him and use these tools. The Black community needs to stop being in denial and sweeping this under this faith-based rug and take it head on.
We need to do better. Have a great week.