You’re Not Alone: Emotional Health and the Black Graduate Student

Black Swan Lake

Black Swan Lake (Photo credit: epSos.de)

 

You’re Not Alone: Emotional Health and the Black Graduate Student

 

Posted by For Harriet | Labels: graduate school, higher education, racism

 

by Nana Brantuo

 

Sitting in class after a long day of teaching and data entry, my mind drifted away for the discussion at hand. Events from the day played over and over in my head. Earlier in the day, the class I TA reviewed Donald Murray’s case against the University of Maryland (Pearson v. Murray, 1936). Out of nowhere, he raised his hand, Mr. White Privilege/Future Leader of America. Without a care in the world, he attempted justifying segregation – referring to it as “unfortunate” but necessary to maintain financial sponsors of the institution (some of his white peers nodding their heads in agreement). By the time my evening course began, I was still upset. Was this the life I planned on, teaching privileged white kids who had no interest in the lives of experiences of people of color? I wasn’t interested in hearing my classmates reflect on years of teaching Black and Brown children (stories that I label as The White Savior Chronicles). I was fed up with their eyes staring at me when discussions shifted to diversity and equity, sorry attempts at soliciting the Black woman to speak. Familiar feelings of doubt and depression consumed me and quickly shifted to feelings of sadness.

 

What was I doing here? Why does it feel as though I have to build a case, a defense for the education of Black and Brown children in a country that prides itself on democracy, liberty, and justice? Instead of bottling in these feelings, I turned to social media to disclose my feelings. My status read, “Are periods of sadness common among graduate students along with feelings of doubt?” After a few minutes I began seeing responses.

 

“I thought I was the only one.”

 

“Girl yes!”

 

“Yes, but keep moving…”

 

“Yes, You have to find balance otherwise this mess will consume you…”

 

I was not alone. I was not the only one. This outpour of understanding and support helped me realize how unhealthy the graduate school process can be without proper self-care, self-love, and foresight for the future ahead. I had been avoiding address the stress and anxiety that had consumed me, sometimes to the point of physical illness. I would have anxiety attacks in private, during lunch breaks, even once during a class. At one point, my hair was thinning out. I used happy hour as a way of drinking my problems away. Why? Because I didn’t think of them as real problems with real consequences if not handled properly.

 

“All of the sacrifices my family and ancestors have made are much greater than these anxiety attacks.”

 

“Snap out of this, Black people don’t have anxiety attacks. Black people don’t get depressed.”

 

“You can’t let them see you sweat. You can’t let these white people see you sweat.”

 

These were the things I would tell myself when the pressure of graduate school began consuming me. I held on so strongly to my upbringing of sucking it up and moving along that I allowed my emotional and physical health to deteriorate. Now, I am taking the time to say, “Enough is enough!” We must take the time to address and nurture our emotional health in order to fight the battles ahead. The experiences of Black graduate students (POC graduate students in general) are filled with anxiety, stress, anger, depression, and sadness. Amid endless pages of readings, deadlines that never end, comprehensive exams, and upcoming thesis/dissertation proposals and defenses, our emotional health can take a turn for the worst. We constantly have to defend our spaces, our causes, and our communities in academic spaces that resist diversity. We push ourselves to the limit for the degrees and certifications but is that the ultimate goal? Our work and our sacrifices are not for these institutions, professors, or classmates but rather for the communities we love and our people. We must take care of ourselves holistically as we make our way through these academic journeys. Forming support groups, going to therapy, and finding outlets (i.e. writing, painting, exercising) are three among numerous steps towards creating balance in lives that are often thrown off of equilibrium by classes, coursework, and academic writing.

 

Our growth and increased understanding of the connection between physical, mental, and emotional health is essential to developing and uplifting our communities. Everyday I pull from the strength of generations that have come before to push on in my journey. I remind myself that I’m working for the youth, ensuring that they will have access to high quality education that is centered on their social and academic growth. I speak with close friends and trusted advisors when I feel myself consumed by feelings of doubt. I remind myself that I am the child of a race that has come so far and will continue moving forward.

 

Related:

 

Black, Poor, and Woman in Higher Education: What I Learned From Graduate School

 

Nana Brantuo, a Ghanaian/Sierra Leonean American, is a second-year doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Minority and Urban Education program and an alumna of Howard University. Nana is the creator of The New African, a blog focused on embracing the diversity of African and African descendants. Currently, she is a content developer for an up and coming blog/magazine that focuses on Africans in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

 

via You’re Not Alone: Emotional Health and the Black Graduate Student.

 

 

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BLACK MAN HURTING: Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Depression in Our Men? – EBONY

Black Man Face

Black Man Face (Photo credit: Dr Case)

 

BLACK MAN HURTING:

 

Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Depression in Our Men?

 

A recent study shows Black men are unlikely to be prescribed antidepressants. Michael Arceneaux says he knows all too well how doctors miss the boat with Black men’s mental health

 

By Michael Arceneaux Writer

 

BLACK MAN HURTING:
Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Depression in Our Men?

 

I’m not surprised by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health survey’s findings that doctors are far less likely to prescribe antidepressants to Black and Latino patients afflicted with major depressive disorder than their white counterparts.

 

In their findings, race, payment source, physician ownership status and geographical region were all listed as factors that play into whether physicians decide to prescribe antidepressants to patients. Moreover, age and payment source influence which types of antidepressants patients receive. As a result, Caucasians are 1.52 times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants than Black and Latino patients being treated for major depressive disorders.

 

The disparity in antidepressant usage between Whites and minorities often centers on stigmas within minority communities. It’s about time the focus shifted towards how the role the attitudes of others factor into the gap.

 

Though I was never treated for a specific major depressive disorder, I have had painful bouts with depression and anxiety through the years – and encounters with careless doctors who bypassed obvious symptoms due to their own silly biases. Less than a year ago there was a period where I feared standing up would invite the kind of pain sure to knock me down. During one week in particular, each new day brought on an even more excruciating headache than the one before. When I did finally manage to stand up, I noticed that I had broken out in several different rashes across various parts of my body. As freaked out as I was about the exterior, I was more worried that I could barely function without needing to lay down every other hour. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me.

 

via BLACK MAN HURTING: Do Doctors Fail to Diagnose Depression in Our Men? – Wellness & Empowerment – EBONY.

 

Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health

Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health

November 16, 2011 in Psychology & Psychiatry

For black American adults, perceived racism may cause mental health symptoms similar to trauma and could lead to some physical health disparities between blacks and other populations in the United States, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

While previous studies have found links between racism and mental health, this is the first meta-analysis on the subject focusing exclusively on black American adults, according to the study published online in APA’s Journal of Counseling Psychology.

“We focused on black American adults because this is a population that has reported, on average, more incidents of racism than other racial minority groups and because of the potential links between racism and not only mental health, but physical health as well,” said lead author Alex Pieterse, PhD, of the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Researchers examined 66 studies comprising 18,140 black adults in the United States. To be included in the analysis, a study must have been published in a peer-reviewed journal or dissertation between 1996 and 2011; include a specific analysis of mental health indicators associated with racism; and focus specifically on black American adults in the United States.

Black Americans’ psychological responses to racism are very similar to common responses to trauma, such as somatization, which is psychological distress expressed as physical pain; interpersonal sensitivity; and anxiety, according to the study. Individuals who said they experienced more and very stressful racism were more likely to report mental distress, the authors said.

While the researchers did not collect data on the impacts on physical health, they cite other studies to point out that perceived racism may also affect black Americans’ physical health.

“The relationship between perceived racism and self-reported depression and anxiety is quite robust, providing a reminder that experiences of racism may play an important role in the health disparities phenomenon,” Pieterse said. “For example, African-Americans have higher rates of hypertension, a serious condition that has been associated with stress and depression.”

The authors recommended that therapists assess racism experiences as part of standard procedure when treating black Americans, and that future studies focus on how discrimination is perceived in specific settings, such as work, online or in school.

More information: Full text of the article is available at http://www.apa.org … pieterse.pdf

Provided by American Psychological Association search and more info website

via Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health.

Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health

Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health

November 16, 2011 in Psychology & Psychiatry

For black American adults, perceived racism may cause mental health symptoms similar to trauma and could lead to some physical health disparities between blacks and other populations in the United States, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

 

While previous studies have found links between racism and mental health, this is the first meta-analysis on the subject focusing exclusively on black American adults, according to the study published online in APA’s Journal of Counseling Psychology.

“We focused on black American adults because this is a population that has reported, on average, more incidents of racism than other racial minority groups and because of the potential links between racism and not only mental health, but physical health as well,” said lead author Alex Pieterse, PhD, of the University at Albany, State University of New York.

Researchers examined 66 studies comprising 18,140 black adults in the United States. To be included in the analysis, a study must have been published in a peer-reviewed journal or dissertation between 1996 and 2011; include a specific analysis of mental health indicators associated with racism; and focus specifically on black American adults in the United States.

Black Americans’ psychological responses to racism are very similar to common responses to trauma, such as somatization, which is psychological distress expressed as physical pain; interpersonal sensitivity; and anxiety, according to the study. Individuals who said they experienced more and very stressful racism were more likely to report mental distress, the authors said.

While the researchers did not collect data on the impacts on physical health, they cite other studies to point out that perceived racism may also affect black Americans’ physical health.

“The relationship between perceived racism and self-reported depression and anxiety is quite robust, providing a reminder that experiences of racism may play an important role in the health disparities phenomenon,” Pieterse said. “For example, African-Americans have higher rates of hypertension, a serious condition that has been associated with stress and depression.”

The authors recommended that therapists assess racism experiences as part of standard procedure when treating black Americans, and that future studies focus on how discrimination is perceived in specific settings, such as work, online or in school.

More information: Full text of the article is available at http://www.apa.org … pieterse.pdf

Provided by American Psychological Association search and more info website

 

via Perceived racism may impact black Americans’ mental health.