Black Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Over the last several years, data has emerged indicating an alarming increase in the suicide rates for Black children and teenagers over the past generation. Silence the Shame seeks your support in designating May 1, 2022, as Black Children's Mental Health Awareness Day to bring attention to the growing risk factors and social determinants of health that exacerbate the mental health of black children and teens (4-18) in Georgia. We are dedicated to eliminating mental health stigma, reducing health disparities, and improving rates of suicide among vulnerable populations. We are committed to building programs to promote mental well-being through peer support and education. In addition, we strive to support youth development and leadership to reduce suicide and mental crisis rates in underserved populations.

 

 

Black Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

On April 30, 2019, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) established the Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health (the Taskforce), with Rep. Watson Coleman as the chair. The Taskforce empowered a working group of leading Black academic, research, advocacy, and practice experts to offer thoughtful solutions to address the alarming rates of suicide among black youth (Ring the Alarm: the Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America). In 2022, Silence the Shame is seeking a resolution to designate May 1st as Black Children's Mental Health Awareness Day to bring attention to the growing risk factors and social determinants of health that exacerbate the mental health of Black children in Georgia. On the back of Stress Awareness Month and commencement of Mental Health Awareness Month, May 1st will engage communities to share relevant data. STS will observe this day by (1) Increasing awareness of risk factors and challenges unique to Black youth to reduce stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness and (2) offering prevention and intervention strategies to support healthier outcomes. Additionally, research about suicidal behaviors has raised questions about whether the path from suicidal thoughts to attempts is well understood in Black youth and whether we have the knowledge and tools to intervene before a crisis emerges. Therefore, this day will advocate for funding for culturally represented scientists, researchers, and practitioners interested in studying these issues to guide interventions and policies for Black communities and address disparities that affect Black youth.

We Need Your Help!

We are working to establish partnerships with existing leaders and organizations to advance awareness and advocacy of disparities in the height of the pandemic. We ask your support to designate May 1st as Black Children's Mental Health Awareness Day to identify ways to support healthier outcomes for Black children (4-18) in Georgia.  With your support, STS will develop activities and resources to increase awareness of risk factors and challenges unique to Black youth to reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness.

Supporters

Mental Health America
Stepping Through LLC
Trinity Social Services
Open Arms Inc
 

Background

Between 1991 and 2017, suicide attempts among black adolescents increased by 73%, while attempts among white youth decreased, according to an analysis of more than 198,000 high school students nationwide. ii Other studies have shown an elevated risk of suicide among African American boys ages 5 to 11. As a result of these findings, psychologists boost their efforts to address suicide by diagnosing and treating its precursors, including trauma, depression, and anxiety, while raising awareness of the crisis. Black researchers have attempted to study these findings further but denied those opportunities. Black people face increased rates of risk factors, including experiences of racism, higher rates of unemployment and financial and food insecurity, disparities in other aspects of health, and limited access to care, all of which result in an increased burden of mental illness in black communities. As of 2018, suicide became the second leading cause of death in Black children aged 10-14 and the third leading cause of death in Black adolescents aged 15-19. By combining data from 2001 to 2015, researchers examined suicides among children ages 12 and younger and found that Black children were more likely to die by suicide than White peers. In addition, African American teens are more likely to use lethal means in suicide attempts (e.g., suffocating, hanging, and using firearms). Between 2001 and 2017, rates of suicide increased by 60% among African American teens males and 182% among African American females.vi Mental Health America’s online screening data indicates that the most significant increase in the proportion of youth experiencing suicidal ideation between 2019 and 2020 was for Black or African American screeners and Hispanic or Latinx screeners. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events in childhood and the conditions in the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety and stability. Research in ACEs has increased in recent years, with hundreds of studies finding a strong and consistent relationship between childhood adversity and numerous public health outcomes.  Children from minority backgrounds—whether based on race, socioeconomic standing, or sexual orientation—were at distinctly higher risk of ACEs and their devastating life-long effects than middle-class white children. For example, in the United States, 61% of black children and 51% of Hispanic children have experienced at least one ACE, compared to 40% of white children.  In most areas, the population most at risk was black children.