Is Acting Like ‘a Man’ Making Black Men Depressed?

No more strong, silent types. New Study shows black men who openly discuss struggles with racial discrimination less likely to suffer depression

Nestled among depressing updates about the Trayvon Martin atrocity and the lesser-known racialized police slayings of  Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr., and Ramarley Graham, I stumbled on some promising news on the Black male survival front.

In a new study published in the big-deal American Journal of Public Health, UNC Chapel Hill professor and researcher Wizdom Powell Hammond, Ph.D. found that brothers who openly discuss their everyday struggles with racial discrimination are less likely to suffer depression than those who keep their feelings inside.

This is no small thing given that suicide is the third most common cause of death for Black boys and men ages 15 to 24 and that Black men are five times more likely to kill themselves than Black women. And note that these stats don’t include less dramatic forms of self-destruction like skipping preventative health screenings.

To get into the minds of Black men, Hammond and her team surveyed nearly 700 Black men ages 18 and up, mostly at high-traffic barbershops in four regions throughout the country. To ensure full and attentive participation, survey-takers received a $25 gift certificate toward a free cut. Genius.

Here, Hammond, who is also a White House Fellow, explains why her study deals with everyday racism, how fantasies of the strong silent type can be soul-killing for Black men, and what Black women can do to help our brothers and lovers fend off depression.—Written for by Akiba Solomon

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    This article deals with the REAL issues facing our men and our community. Movies are fun and entertaining but please, don’t leave the theatre trying to apply those fictitious rules to your life. No one in our community should be “acting” like anything. Be honest and open. If you find this difficult, then get some professional help. There is no shame in getting the support you need to move past trauma and disappointments in life. You are not alone.

    Join us on @TheBlackTye to get your daily dose of encouragement, advice, and support.

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