Overcoming The Stigma of Depression as a POC
Within the POC community, there is a stigma surrounding mental health issues. Especially when it comes to issues of depression or anxiety. It can be hard for many of us to break through barriers that have been in place for decades, if not longer.
Mental health is a taboo subject. While addressing the issues we face as POC, it can feel shameful or embarrassing. There is nothing wrong with needing help. As a POC, you can begin overcoming the stigma of depression by remembering the following:
Know That You Are Not Weak
Too often, any display of emotion is incorrectly politicized as aggressive, angry, or violent. So, from a young age, we learned the hard way to compartmentalize our feelings to protect ourselves. Masking our pain and hurt often becomes second nature to many of us. When it is time to talk about our emotions, then, we often feel weak or unworthy of such help.
Many POC believe that, because their ancestors faced great adversity, they shouldn’t have anything to complain about. But, let’s be real. We still face systemic racism on a daily basis. Our issues may be different than those of our ancestors, but they are still just that – issues. And they deserve to be talked about.
The first step to overcoming the stigma of depression is knowing you are not weak. You may have spent your life hiding your emotions, talking about them now is not a sign of weakness. You are not inferior or less than someone else because you have mental health struggles. If anything, it is a great show of courage and strength to seek help.
You Are Not Alone In Your Struggles
After spending so much time alone with our own thoughts and feelings, we often feel like our own island with no one to relate to. Now more than ever, we need to feel like we have a support system behind us. People who just get it. In our community, we don’t have to struggle with our issues alone.
During the time of slavery, there was this awful misconception that minorities were not “developed” enough to be able to experience depression, anxiety, or other mental health struggles. While this line of thinking has long since gone away, the stigma of it remains. From those historical inaccuracies, mental health issues have been pushed under the rug and lessened to feelings of “stress” or “tiredness.”
This leads many people of color to believe that how they are feeling is so unique to them, that no one else could understand what they are going through. And while that is something commonly felt by anyone regardless of race, it is a hurdle that is especially hard for a POC to overcome.
The Right Support Is Out There
It’s common to think that the right mental health support for POC does not exist. However, there is now an increasing rate of POC who are becoming therapists. And, while the pandemic brought us many bad things, it has allowed teletherapy to rise.
Are you in an underserved area for mental health? You can still find a licensed POC therapist in your state. Do you still feel vulnerable and hesitant to talk with a stranger? You could find it easier to talk to someone who knows exactly where you are coming from.
Teletherapy is great because you can participate from the comfort of your own home, car, or wherever you can be alone for an hour. Generally, we are more likely to feel comfortable talking about issues unique to POC when we are in a space that feels safe to us.
Overcoming the stigma of depression is hard. As a people of color, we have been taught to fear the discussion of mental health. Our time is now to break down even larger barriers that are in our way. If you need help navigating life’s challenges such as depression, we know how you are feeling. Please contact us to begin your journey of healing and self-love.