I wrote this based on peer-reviewed studies. Most studies and articles are not presented for public consumption so if you do not actively seek these studies you just wouldn’t know about it. (references are located at the end of the reading)
Living in a patriarchal society seems to say all you need to hear when it comes to men. We have it made! If everything in this society is for men to thrive then we have no excuse not to thrive and succeed in society. If we are in an adverse situation then we must have done something to create it and we must deserve it. Whenever the topic of mental health of melanated males is brought up it is either glazed over, outright dismissed, unaddressed, or minimized. Partly due to defensive listening, when someone takes an innocent comment as a personal attack to them, people get the wrong impression from simple facts and will find an issue with what I am presenting.
All black males are exposed to trauma either directly or indirectly while having no real solution for the trauma they face. Our fathers, brothers, and sons are suffering the most and getting the least treatment. Living in a patriarchal society black men have become the defacto boogeyman, the scapegoat for the world to place all of its blame on, which provides the reasoning for benign neglect. Trauma occurs in four major ways:
- Being a direct victim of trauma
- Witnessing trauma to someone else
- Learning of trauma from someone we are close to
- Exposure to aversive cycles of traumatic events
Outside of black men, trauma is a major public health and medical issue and melanated males 18 and older at a noticeably higher risk. Black males are murdered 26.77 per 100,000 compared to 2.67 per 100,000 compared to white males. This indicates a perpetual cycle of trauma, which leads to unresolved trauma, which leads to even more trauma.
Trauma leads to post-traumatic stress disorder which could result in depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and violence perpetration. With all of these stats that indicate that black males need the most attention, it turns out that they get the least. For this reason, we do not know the true relationship between trauma and melanated men. Which presents itself as a silent killer throughout our community. Within the community you are required to be strong and not be a victim. This idea does not promote men to say when they are mentally disturbed or suffering from emotional pain. For this reason, a majority of black men do not seek mental health and continue on a vicious cycle.
Black men are killed daily more than any group of people in the country and have the worst health status of any ethnic sex group. Exposure to trauma directly or indirectly is a daily reality for black males. Exposure to trauma without medical attention, if it does nothing, puts you at risk to experience additional trauma in the future. This cycle of trauma encapsulates the lives of many black men almost to no direct fault of their own.
Addressing these barriers to mental health services specifically dedicated to black male trauma survivors both directly and indirectly will lead to creating a healthier and thriving society. It will take a collective effort by those who call black men Dad, Brother, or Son to begin to create a safe space for them to seek healing. The best thing we can do is support each other while the worst thing we can do is imagine that we are not affected by trauma.
This is not just an issue that affects only black men, black men are apart of this universe, and all humans play a part to the larger whole. We are a nonseparable part of the collective and our state of mind has a direct relationship to your state of mind. The fact that you experience your thoughts as your thoughts alone is more of a delusion to consciousness as a whole. The fact that you nor I am separated in truth but only in delusion. This delusion is the prison we find ourselves until we deal with the whole.
I wrote this for people who may have not known this. You may have been ignorant of these facts but what ignorance allows is us to advance in knowledge. The real problem is that we already know what people are going through without asking them. Men have grown use to the cycle of trauma so deeply that they don’t even realize that is what is happening. We can be so into our lives that we think our lives are the world. Knowledge is something that we have and it is vast but what is larger is the amount of ignorance that we hold. If we are able to grasp ahold of what we don’t know and seek to learn maybe then we will begin to move into a direction of healing our connections and advancing as a collective. People usually understand their problems in reference to their own personal life story and they are not always aware of the complex links between their own lives and the rest of the world’s history.
Motley R, Banks A. Black Males, Trauma, and Mental Health Service Use: A Systematic Review. Perspect Soc Work (Houst). 2018;14(1):4–19.
Ward E, Mengesha M. Depression in African American men: a review of what we know and where we need to go from here. Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2013;83(2 Pt 3):386–397. doi:10.1111/ajop.12015
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (US). Trauma-Informed Care in Behavioral Health Services. Rockville (MD): Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US); 2014. (Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 57.) Chapter 3, Understanding the Impact of Trauma. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK207191/
Mills, C. W. (1959) The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.