Mental Health

The NCBW Richmond Metropolitan Area Chapter’s mission is to aggressively develop an awareness campaign concerning the causes, symptoms and treatment of mental health issues.  African Americans account for roughly 25% of the mental health needs in this country while only making up 11% to 12% of the national population. Our objective is to become a driving force in the fight against poverty in the African American community specifically targeting women and children of color in poverty within a single household.  In 2010, Richmond ranked 5th among the ten highest child poverty rates in the Commonwealth, noting 35% of its children live in poverty.  

“At the root of this dilemma is the way we view mental health in this country. Whether an illness affects your heart, your leg or your brain, it's still an illness and there should be no distinction."

- Michelle Obama -

Environmental Sources of Mental Health Problems

Mental health issues can arise from extended periods of family-related and social stress, trauma, violence, financial problems, health problems, loss of loved ones, worry, and sadness.  Living in low-income urban communities increases high risk for exposure to traumatic events, physical and sexual abuse which can be associated with the onset of post-traumatic stress syndrome and depression. Mental health issues among African American women can also be accompanied by racism, sexual harassment and discrimination.

Attitudes Toward Mental Health

There is a high degree of stigma with in the African Americans community toward mental illness.  It has been perceived that persons hospitalized for mental illness to be different and inferior to normal people and that these patients should be restricted to protect society.

Coping Behaviors

Studies have found that support from networks, religiosity and avoidance are alliances of mental illness coping mechanisms.  African Americans have an overwhelming affinity to believing that “prayer changes things”.  The use of professional mental health services compared to whites are very low for about 7% of African American women with symptoms of mental illness ever seek treatment.