Depression in Black Boys Begins Earlier Than You Think – Psychology Benefits Society

By Aaron Hunt, MS (Graduate Intern, APA Health Disparities Office) and David J. Robles, BA (Graduate Intern, SAMHSA Office of Behavioral Health Equity)

From 2001 to 2015, the suicide risk for Black boys between the ages of 5 and 11 was two to three times higher than that of White boys, according to a new research letter in JAMA Pediatrics (Bridge, 2018). This concerning trend continues through adolescence as reported by the Nationwide Youth Risk Behavior Survey (Kann et al., 2017). The rates of attempted suicide, including attempts that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or overdose, are 1.2x higher among Black males compared to White males.

These persistent trends are enrooted in life expectancy disparities that Black boys face. The APA Working Group on Health Disparities in Boys and Men recently released a new report on Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic and Sexual Minority Boys and Men, which includes a review of research which may help to explain this increase in suicide in Black boys.

Source: Depression in Black Boys Begins Earlier Than You Think – Psychology Benefits Society

Research Shows Entire Black Communities Suffer Trauma After Police Shootings ::: TruthOut

Research Shows Entire Black Communities Suffer Trauma After Police Shootings

Following several nationally publicized police killings of unarmed Black Americans in the United States, Eva L., a fitness instructor who identifies as Black, started to experience what she describes as “immense paranoia.” She would often call in sick, because she feared risking an encounter with police upon leaving her house. She also started to second-guess her and her husband’s decision to have children.

“Seeing Black bodies murdered and physical/emotional violence online and on the news” was a trauma she could no longer bear, Eva says. “I was terrified of bringing a child into the world we live in and experience as Black people. I thought not having kids was a truer sign of love than risk them being harmed by this world.”

A recent study sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania — released just before the anniversaries of the deaths of Eric Garner (2014), Michael Brown (2014), John Crawford (2014), and Philando Castile (2016) — found that there could be millions like Eva, for whom these killings have been a mental health trigger.

Research included data from the Mapping Police Violence Projectdatabase for police killings between 2013 and 2016 and information from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of over 103,000 Black Americans. The results indicate that police killings of unarmed Black Americans are having a population-level impact on the mental health of Black Americans.

According to researchers, the incidents may contribute to 1.7 additional poor mental health days per person every year, or 55 million more poor mental health days every year among Black Americans across the United States. That means the mental health burden for African Americans caused by police killings of unarmed Black victims is nearly as great as the mental health burden associated with diabetes. African Americans have some of the highest rates of the disease, which contributes annually to 75 million days of poor mental health among them.

Eva started seeing a therapist who diagnosed her as having generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s been two years now, and she admits that her progress toward healing has been slow, yet steady.

Jacob Bor, co-author of the study and assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, says the responses in his social circle to police killings of unarmed Black victims is what interested him in conducting this study. Bor noticed that White people were able to comprehend “the injustice on an intellectual level but did not experience the same level of trauma.”

The study findings confirmed Bor’s personal observations. The research team did not observe spillover mental health effects in White respondents from police killings. It should also be noted that among respondents of either race, there were no spillover effects for police killings of unarmed White people or killings of armed Black people.

The research is essential in considering our own personal experiences, says Bor, adding that the findings speak to the overall “value of different people’s lives.” This society “has a long history of state-sanctioned violence” toward racially marginalized groups, he says.

The mental health sector is only now researching the impact of police brutality, a concern that has affected African Americans for decades. “Clinicians can go through medical school without [gaining] any experience in treating the effects of racism,” Bor says. Studies like his, he adds, can help to create long overdue critical mainstream discussions about the effects of racism on mental health, such as, “How do we in public health, society, and among the clinical and mental health services support people when these incidents occur?” and “Can a profession dominated by White providers effectively treat the emotional struggles of ‘living while Black’ in this country?”

According to Bor, these discussions are needed to implement change. “Among many White Americans, there is an empathy gap … and a failure to believe when people of color say ‘this hurts me,’” he says.

Adding to the deficiency of culturally competent therapists, poverty and other formidable socio-economic challenges — also stemming from structural racism — remain steadfast barriers to African Americans accessing mental health care, according to the American Psychological Association.

New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, has also become a passionate advocate for what she describes as a movement for “culturally competent mental health care.”

“When you talk about people of color, who are obviously facing discrimination and legacy of racism and poverty in huge numbers, you are talking about something that is really tough to overcome,” McCray says.

Inadequate care undermines benefits from policies and resources designed to mitigate the burdens of systemic oppression. “Mental illness along with substance abuse disorders are hardship multipliers,” she says. Struggling unsupported with “mental illness can make everything that much harder.”

For example, holding on to affordable housing, staying enrolled in college, and even surviving encounters with law enforcement can be extremely more difficult for those suffering from mental illness or trauma, McCray says. In fact, the most recent annual numbers from the Washington Post’s database of fatal police-shooting victims indicate that “nearly 1 in 4 of those shot was described as experiencing some form of mental distress at the time of the encounter with police.”

“Mental health is the ultimate intersectional concern,” McCray says. “It is reflected in all of our policies … education, housing, school, relationships.”

In 2015, she and her spouse, Mayor Bill de Blasio, launched Thrive NYC, a $850 million mental health program that incorporates 54 initiatives. Among the program’s several core objectives is the aim to address the stigma around mental illness and increase access to treatment across the city. McCray believes that ThriveNYC’s community focused approach is one of several necessary steps toward reaching historically under served groups.

“Culturally competent care to me is all about trust,” McCray says. “It improves early identification, accessibility, and outcomes.” Also, she says, “People have to be seen.” From her advocacy experience she has observed that “people have to feel that they can turn to someone that they trust.”

Connecting people with the appropriate resources, however, means surmounting many challenges. “There is great deal of work to be done to eliminate the stigma,” McCray says. There is also the matter of affordability and infrastructure. “We’ve never had a well-coordinated mental health system in our country — ever. People who have the money find ways to manage.” She says she wants to fight for everyone to get the resources they need to cope.

Eva recognizes that her path to healing has taken a significant amount of work and support beyond the means of many African Americans. “Access to therapy is a privilege,” she says. “I know that most people can’t afford weekly sessions at $150-plus.” Yet, she adds, “[going through therapy] is the only reason why I’m OK planning for kids at 32.”


Tasha Williams writes about economics and technology. Follow her on Twitter: @riseupwoman.

“Child Sexual Abuse & Trauma in the African-American Community: The Shame, The Blame, & The Solutions” l Baltimore, MD



A National Conference

March 22, 203
Hilton Baltimore 401 West Pratt Street – Baltimore, MD 21201

The Royal Circle Foundation announces the Baltimore screening of the award winning feature film, “WOLF” (Exodus Filmworks – 2012), by Director, Writer, and Filmmaker, Ya’ Ke Smith, which addresses child sexual abuse in the Black church. The film will premiere in Baltimore on Friday evening, March 22, 2013 as part of the events being held in conjunction with the first national conference on “Child Sexual Abuse & Trauma in the African-American Community: The Shame, The Blame, & The Solutions” convening at the downtown Baltimore Hilton Hotel(401 W. Pratt Street- Baltimore, MD 21201) from March 22 –23, 2013.
The film tells the story of an African-American family struggling with the discovery that their son has been sexually molested. As they struggle to deal with the betrayal of the clergyman, their son heads towards total mental collapse because of his love and admiration for his abuser as the pastor struggles with his own past demons. “WOLF”, is the fifth and first full length film directed and written by Ya’ Ke whose films have received worldwide acclaim being screened at over eighty (80) film festivals nationally and internationally including The Cannes International Film Festival, Pan-African Film & Arts Festival, The Sedicorto Film Festival Fori, to name a few, as well as having been shown on HBO and
Professor Ya’ Ke who teaches film at the University of Texas (Arlington) says, “Writing this film is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done…..I wanted to make sure that I approached it (child sexual molestation) with grace, not judgment. This film is not meant to criticize churches nor is it meant to dismiss Christianity as some faux religion where all people are preyed upon. My hope is that it will shed light on the vicious cycle of sexual abuse so that the victims can understand that they are not alone and can step out of the shadows of silence.”
Tickets for the film screening which includes a pre-screening reception and post screening discussion by the director, himself as well as registration for the entire two-day conference which will bring together the nation’s leading experts in the fields of psychiatry, psychology, nursing, social work, mental health, addictions and pastoral counseling as well as law and public policy officials to address this national public health epidemic and chart a course for meaningful solutions, can be viewed and ordered at the Foundation’s website located at the following web address: or by contacting the program chairperson by phone at: (410) 752-2943 or 410-637-5474 for more information.

“If you still believe in the power of film, watch WOLF”- Film Slate Magazine-

Tickets are very limited and early bird registration ends January 30, 2013. Corporate sponsorships, program advertisements as well as exhibit space for organizations, associations, and businesses are also available with application forms located on the Foundation’s web page listed above. Continuing education credits for professionals in health care and social services have been applied for and are currently pending.

The conference, “Child Sexual Abuse & Trauma in the African-American Community: The Shame, The Blame & The Solutions” being sponsored by the Royal Circle Foundation in  Association with the Black Psychiatrists of America, The Office of Minority & National Affairs (American Psychiatric Association) and The Black Mental Health Alliance
(Baltimore), will also feature an “Inspirations” Awards Dinner & Luxury Auction on Saturday evening, March 23, 2013 as a major 2013 fundraiser for the Foundation’s Youth Violence Prevention Program that targets “at-risk” youth by providing them with positive cultural and educational experiences as well as cross-cultural exchanges. Included among the luxury items to be auctioned are: an autographed baseball by President Obama, autographed boxing gloves of Muhammad Ali,autographed guitar from Carlos Santana, as well as autographed photographs, albums and sheet music by Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Program Chairperson, Dr. Patricia Newton says, “If you care about our children, you must attend this conference and film screening. And if you care about their future, please endorse the fundraising efforts associated with it by showing your support of the  Foundation’s Youth Violence Prevention Program and participate in the awards dinner as well as the auction. It’s time for the “Conspiracy of Silence” related to childhood trauma and sexual abuse in our community to end.” The Royal Circle Foundation is a non-profit charitable tax-exempt IRS designated 501 (c) 3 organization. Please consult your tax advisor for tax deduction and tax credit information

Baltimore Conference & Screening of Child Sexual Abuse Film Baltimore, MD – January 2, 2013:

Contact: Patricia A. Newton, M.D., MPH, M. A.
Program Chairperson
Phone: 410-752-2943/ 410-637-5474