This is part 2 of my article on Men of Color and Mental Health. Here is a different perspective from 2 Caucasian men. Share your thoughts as well……
1. With the recent news of NFL player Aaron Hernandez’s passing and the FB Live murder, how important do you feel it is to address the mental health of men (and men of color) right now?
Richard M., married entrepreneur and TV show host, Coffee & Cream TV (pictured above):
I think ‘mental health’ really puts a certain heaviness to both of these examples. Mr. Hernandez committed suicide to a situation that, obviously, has very little hope.
I feel, honestly, that I, being relatively of good mental wellness, would consider that option as well. No form of ‘address’ would have enough of a impact.
In the case of Mr. Stephens, that could relate easily to mental illness.
Especially, since there was a considerable amount of ‘cool-down’ time in the process. His crime was calculated, even if his victim was random.
The importance of addressing mental illness, in my opinion, would dwindle compared to more of the issue of STRESS on men in this world of multi-focal issues that are important to our Western culture as men.
Frank M., married working man and noted photographer (no picture provided):
Why? Mental Health issues among men are still not widely accepted as a health issue, but are often characterized as a weakness or character defect that doesn’t require treatment and can be conquered through willpower or moral fortitude.
2. Stereotypically, how well are we (culturally) taking care of the mental health of black men, in particular?
I still think there is a strong and resilient ‘slave’ mentality inherent in the ‘black’ culture on all economic and societal levels.
The victim stance through media and political agendas has reinforced this on a perceived level.
If money (power and influence) is not being directed at affirming and building genuine and true empowerment to the male black populace, I see little will change.
If you come out of the womb, and all through your life you are racially victimized, especially from within your own ‘color-based’ culture, even within the structure of ‘black’ families…
You truly will have little regard to your own strength…especially in the mind in regards to self-worth, problem-solving and change agency.
The stereotype that men must be strong and handle their business is a basic tenet that has very positive implications for many areas in life. But when it comes to areas like health it is very dangerous. This is true especially for mental health issues which lag behind even physical health with men refusing to ask for help and and are reluctant to take help. This tendency is not helped by the moral fiber or willpower argument against getting help that is reinforced by church and cultural norms.
3. What can we do differently to help?
Racially, we must enlighten, educate and celebrate a genuine shift in positive and truthful self-identity to the ‘black’ or ‘colored’ male. This must be displayed on personal, corporate and educational level.
Not as some PC speak or behavior that either displays itself as ingenue or patronizing.
I find it frustrating as a white male with barely a High School education, that I know measurably more about the ‘dark-skinned’ struggle and accomplishment historically and intellectually on a global level.
The responsibility lies squarely on the black male and his paradigm shift .
If we, as the perceived evil ‘white’ control system, solely provide this for him…it will be just another master enslavement control and the black culture will blame my pigmentation as victims.
It will be business as usual and no difference…again.
High profile role models that have accepted help for mental health issues doing PSAs could help but the narrative for men to be strong and self-reliant will be difficult to reverse.
All in all, mental illness is a serious matter that requires much more attention, diagnosis, treatment and equal access to care. I hope that these ideas shed some light and encourage all men to get the help they need.