Parenting

Importance of Mental Health for African American Parents

Importance of Mental Health for African American Parents

We are half-way through Black History Month already. This is a unique month that makes us think of the past and how African Americans contributed to the United States and the world. One thing that stands out is the fact that to have an impact one must be present. This means that everyone must take care of themselves mentally, emotionally, and physically to contribute to society. Many parents may not be able to recognize when there is an issue with taking care of themselves because they are busy being the best parent they can be.

According to Mental Health America, 16 percent of African Americans reported having a mental illness in the past year. As a community, it is important to recognize that mental health impacts African Americans, and parents in particular, which can impact their children. Collectively, we can support African American parents by first normalizing accessing mental health services. There is a stigma surrounding asking for help. If you have a parent in your life that you know may need mental healthcare, encourage them, and ensure them that they aren’t “crazy” for needing help. Instead, help them to understand that asking for mental health help makes them responsible for getting the care that they need. Next, help that parent find services and support them during their mental health treatment. Seeking care is one thing but having the support of others during treatment is priceless. Finally, offer to take something off their plate. For instance, provide dinner for them and their family or offer to watch their child(ren) for an evening so they can have some self-care time. It is the little things that provide the impactful support for parents.

The common theme of all African American historic figures is that they contributed to society in some way that paved the way for change. The only way they were able to do that is that at some point they recognized the need to take care of themselves in all respects. African American parents are at a greater risk of suffering from mental health issues, but are less likely to get services for a variety of reasons. This makes it even more important that they are supported by family and friends. Those three simple things that you can do to help support an African American parent can make all the difference.

Monet Somerville, MS
Parent Educator

Monet received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina Wesleyan College. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Capella University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Developmental Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. Monet is also a licensed Trust Based Relational Intervention Practitioner.

Prior to working to The Parenting Center, Monet worked as a Case Manager in a residential facility for adolescent girls who were in foster care but were unable to be placed in a foster home. She also taught foster parents about child development and the impacts that positive parenting can make on a child.