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The Stigma of Mental Health and How it is Effecting Blacks in the Work Place

By Jasmine Deloatch
Assistant Editor
New Journal and Guide

While the unemployment rates within the Black community are not rising, they continue to tower over that of the white community.

Ashley McCutcheon, LPC, owner of Chaos to Clarity Counseling and Consulting LLC, in Virginia Beach told us she believes that over all, mental health tremendously impacts Black Americans in whatever job they are in.

“There’s already a stigma around mental health. They (Black Americans) may not express it until it becomes too much in the workplace. In illnesses like bipolar and schizophrenia, it affects them because they lose jobs,” said McCutcheon.

McCutcheon said there aren’t many services or protections in corporate America to help those dealing with serious mental health diagnoses. The services that they are offered, she said, they aren’t made aware of, which causes them to lose jobs, due to not being aware of the help that is out there.

“Education plays a better part in mid level and higher level jobs, but because of the stigma, people push mental health aside and don’t take the time to care for mental health. Social inequalities don’t help. A lot of it is ‘Is it just me or am I being discriminated against?’” she said.

“Coping depends on the amount of support. With women, if they have strong bonds with family and loved ones, they have a better time coping. But, because of the stigma, they don’t cope as well as they should. When there is an illness, the families are shamed. With men, it can play out in anger or violence. Younger generations are more likely to display symptoms or signs of depression. A lot of millennials are taking their mental health more seriously. It is becoming more accepted and more recognized.”  McCutcheon said.

She said that more so than being taken as a joke, it is unspoken. McCutcheon said we have to consider different cultures and the ways in which we handle mental health. She said that one issue is the lack of discussion in regard to mental health within the Black community.

“(The right way to cope) is unique to everybody. You may have to look at where you are in the stages.”

McCutcheon said that coping with mental health is a process and that there are different stages. She recommends researching how you’re feeling and said that you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out and consult with a professional. There are crisis text lines and free resources available for those battling with mental health, she said.

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McCutcheon said that increasing knowledge and awareness and thinking of times when you didn’t feel that way and how life was going is a step in the right direction. She recommended movement and exercise as a way to increase oxygen to the brain and feel better. She said that connecting with healthy individuals in life, honesty and setting boundaries with yourself and others is really important.

McCutcheon spoke on how workplace performance can also be affected by mental health. “Depending on your situation, it (mental health) can effect how you interact. We can overshare or not have great boundaries in the workplace. We can be irritable, which can affect our ability to grow in the workplace. This can impact your performance in the workplace,” she said.

On the other end of the spectrum, she said, some people attempt to overcompensate with work, which is not sustainable.

Mental health is very important and should be taken seriously within the Black community as well. If you or someone that you know is struggling with mental health, encourage them to reach out for help. Mental Health assistance at little to no cost can be found on government websites, state and local.

For more about Chaos to Clarity Counseling and Consulting LLC, follow them at Chaos to Clarity Counseling on Instagram and Facebook and visit their website at Chaostoclaritycounseling.com

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