3 Key Challenges for Black Young Men

3 Key Challenges for Black Young Men

Men’s Health: Breaking The Stigma

While the overall prevalence of mental illness in men is typically lower, mental health among men often goes untreated because they are far less likely to seek treatment than women.

Depression and suicide are one of the leading causes of death among men.

The Office for National Statistics in the UK released that three-quarters of registered suicide deaths in 2019 and 2020 were for men.

Black youth have experienced an increase in suicide attempts, as well as in injury by attempt over the past decade.

When taking race into consideration, suicide becomes the third leading cause of death for Black males age 15-24, according to the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The suicide death rate among Black youth has increased faster than any other racial or ethnic group.


Masculinity: Unhealthy Misconceptions

Men are often expected to be strong, responsible and dominant.

These misconceptions can make it harder for men to open up and reach out for help.

Issues related to masculinity and society’s expectations are keeping many men from talking about and seeking help for their mental health problems. I explored this in more detail in a post on ‘Are men forbidden to cry?’

While these traits themselves are not inherently negative, they are often associated with an unhealthy misconception that “being strong” means hiding emotions or avoiding showing weaknesses.

“Men are often taught not to cry and “man up”

These socially-imposed “norms” or “stigma” can elicit shame when men try to express emotions or show vulnerabilities.

Whilst men regardless of background feel pressure to conform to masculine ideals, perhaps black men feel particular pressure to stay strong and hide their vulnerabilities.

Could these rigid concepts of masculinity be pushing Black men to suicide?


3 Key Challenges for Black Young Men

Suicide has now become the second leading cause of death among Black youth.

study in 2019 revealed a 73% increase in suicide attempts by black teens and the Nuffield Foundation also reported, on average 3 times more thoughts of death than other ethnicities during lockdown.

new research published in September 2021 found that suicides rose over time among Black youth of all ages and that the biggest increases occurred among teens aged 15 to 17.

In addition, more than 2.5 times as many Black boys died by suicide as Black girls, although the annual increase in Black girls is now twice higher compared to Black boys.

Behind the devastating statistical figures are actual lives that have been taken due to suppression, depression and hopelessness;

  1. Apart from the social stigma towards how men should behave, the cultural stigmas are pushing black men further away from seeking help. Research indicates that many held negative attitudes about people who obtain mental health care.
  2. On top of social and cultural stigmas, other factors such as racism, inequality and economic oppression may account for the worryingly high figures concerning Black men’s suicide rates. The Samaritans has published a report suggesting that deprivation, debt and inequality can increase suicide risk.
  3. Among many elements that lead to suicidal attempt, racism is a driving factor of health inequalities in Black children and adolescents. The Young and Black report found 95% of young, black students have heard and witnessed racist language at school. They, also said they grow up to expect racist behaviour due to the colour of their skin.

It’s too important to ignore THIS! During #mentalhealthawarenessweek we hosted The Kinship Summit alongside our Race & Mental Health Experts exploring this LEARN MORE here