For my capstone I decided to focus on mental health in the black community. I found that it has been statistically proven that African Americans have more exposure to crime, violence, and poverty. Being in hostile environments all the time activates to fight or flight response and can trigger different mental illnesses. On top of that black people have historically been exposed to hostile things like Jim Crow, slavery, civil rights movement,etc. and trauma affects your biological makeup which can then be passed down to your kids. This information inspired me to get African Americans exposed to this information with the hopes that we can change the how we view the topic and maybe one day end the stigmas around mental health and mental illness. I then held an event for people to come out and talk. I also created an audio piece with a few interviews that I’ve conducted.
Link to audio piece here.
"Black & African American Communities and Mental Health." Mental Health America. Accessed February 02, 2017. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/african-american-mental-health.
Mental Health in America is nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing awareness to and preventing mental health through education, advocacy, and research services. I found a page on the website the specifically addresses mental health in black and African American communities. It talks about how although black people make up a small portion of the population the rate in which people are reported with a mental issues is disproportionated. This is because there are many environmental factors the historically and currently affect this community. And a lot of times black people are misdiagnosed with mental disorders. In my project I used the infographic. I used the infographic because people retain information better with visuals, also because I wanted to show that we are a minority however there is a big percent of people who have a mental illness.
"Got Your ACE Score?" ACEs Too High. July 25, 2015. Accessed February 03, 2017. https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/.
ACE stands for adverse childhood experiences. The ACE test is a series of questions about a bunch of different events and the person answers yes or no. For every yes that a person has they receive a point. This test is used to measure a person person childhood trauma. The reason why this is important to my project is because exposure to a childhood trauma affects a person's physical health on a biological level. If a person who has a score of four a more is at risk for problems with their hormonal and immune system, the brain’s function and development, and the way the their DNA is read and transcribe. I thought that having this in my project would be a more interesting lens to talk about my project through. Most people talk about the social issues that a person may face but no one really talks about the biological effects.
Hairston, Tahirah. "'Being Mary Jane' Gracefully Tackles a Touchy Subject Black People Often Avoid." Fusion. Accessed February 03, 2017. http://fusion.net/story/222956/being-mary-jane-suicide-mental-health/.
This is an article that is giving a recap of an episode from the television series Being Mary Jane. The show is about a woman who is a successful television host on a major network. This show follows the up and downs of her work life along with family and social life. What makes this show interesting is how they address many related issues for black woman in the corporate world. On this one particular episode a character committed suicide after a long and hard struggle with depression. The reason why I wanted to incorporate this into my project is because of the many signs that this character showed and all her attempts to get her loved ones attention and how no one noticed. I am using this episode for a blog post about the many ways that people reach out for help in ways that may not be that obvious. I think that this a source to reference because it’s a pretty current and popular show that could make my audience interested.
"NAMI." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness | African Americans. Accessed February 02, 2017. http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/African-Americans.
National Alliance on Mental Illness has a similar mission as Mental Health in America. I found more information about the prevalence of mental in the black community and it’s causes. The one thing that this source did differently was that they included resources so that people can get help. They bring up an interesting point about how as a patient it is important to make sure that your health care provider has cultural competence. On website I quote some of their stats about misdiagnosis of african american people about of lack of cultural competence.
Siawale Vesslee in discussion with the author Tianna McNair, January 2017
I interviewed Siawale who is an apart of the African diaspora to get a unique point of view on how families who aren’t from America are similar to the ones who are. I found that there were a lot a similarities with the culture and how we both deal with mental health. Some of the interview questions are: How does you, your family and friends talk about mental people with mental illnesses? Has your family ever talked about or taught you self care? What are some common misconceptions that exist within the black community? What do you think needs to be changed about how we view mental health as a collective? And how can we reach out to people living with these conditions without being overbearing? I then used her response in a podcast that shows how mental health is not often talked about in black families.
"Suicide Statistics — AFSP." AFSP. Accessed February 02, 2017. https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/.
This source is the American Foundation for suicide prevention. This source has a lot of statistics about suicide in America and it gets as specific as the rates by gender and race. I used this source to compare the rates I found about black people to other races here. I used some stats on my webpage.
"Suicide Rates among Young Black Boys on the Rise." CNN. Accessed February 02, 2017. http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/19/health/suicide-youth/.
I found this article on CNN that talks about how the suicide rates for black boys are on a rise. It talks about how the rate has been on a constant incline for the past two decades. And how suicide is one of the third leading causes for deaths of young black boys in America. I plan on using this article in my blog as another way to show the prevalence of mental health issues. It talks about how deaths from suicide has always been something that was common and consistent among white males. I found that interesting because it was only recently that suicide deaths have become common in black boys and I wanted to explore why that may be. I assumed that it was because of more direct effects on us like mass incarceration, adverse childhood experiences, police brutality, the school to prison pipeline, and strict gender norms.
Vaughn Matthews in discussion with the author Tianna McNair, January 2017
I interviewed Vaughn with the same interview questions that I asked Siawale. He had a unique response. He talked about how he and his family actually talked about self care. He told me about the many different ways that he and his siblings carry out their self care regimens. This was different from all the other interviews that I recorded.
"Welcome to WISQARS™." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. January 12, 2017. Accessed February 02, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention holds a lot of reliable statistics about deaths in the united states and their causes. I wanted to use this source to find unbiased statistics to either prove or disprove the CNN article. This link wasn’t really helpful in that sense. However, was able to see how many deaths there were and do calculations using the information from other sources to find the percentage of the amount of those deaths were suicides.
Writer, HealthyPlace.com Staff. "Mental Health Hotline Numbers and Referral Resources." HealthyPlace. Accessed February 03, 2017. http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/.
Although this source is would not be considered scholarly, this sources was really helpful for creating my website. My modeled my website to be similar to this source. On this website they have a blog, resource tab, forum, about page, etc. I copied some of the resource numbers on my website. I chose the hotline numbers that were geared more towards mental health. For example numbers for victims of child abuse, learning disabilities, sexual assault, and suicide and self harm.