Mental health affects individuals of all backgrounds, however, Black boys and men are often overlooked and underserved when it comes to mental health services. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the perfect time to focus on providing comprehensive and accessible mental health services that are culturally geared toward Black boys and men.

Black boys and men experience mental health issues differently than other groups. Research shows that Black boys and men are more likely to experience issues such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, as well as higher rates of suicide compared to other racial and ethnic groups. There also are cultural factors impacting the way Black boys and men experience mental health issues, such as the stigma or shame associated with seeking help. Mental health providers should be aware of these unique issues and adjust their approach to treatment accordingly.  

Accessible mental health services for black boys and men are essential for a variety of reasons. First, it is critical that they have access to the care and resources to improve their mental health. Mental health services can provide them with the tools and support to cope with their mental health issues and lead healthier and happier lives. 

It is also important to recognize that mental health services can help reduce disparities in mental health outcomes. Research shows that access to mental health services improves the overall health outcomes for minorities.

Also important in providing comprehensive and accessible mental health services for Black boys and men is understanding the cultural barriers preventing them from seeking help. Financial constraints, distrust of the medical system, past provider bias, and geography can all be major obstacles to accessing mental health services. Recognizing that certain cultural taboos also may deter Black boys and men from seeking help. Providers should be aware of these cultural taboos and make their services as culturally sensitive as possible. 

Providers should also make services as comprehensive and accessible as possible such as providing free or low-cost care in convenient locations. Providers should also be aware of the additional types of treatment that may be available to individuals from different cultures. Traditional methods such as natural remedies and religious rituals or practices may be an option. Providers should be open to incorporating these treatments be willing to work with individuals to find the best approach for their specific needs.

Providers can go a long way toward ensuring that all individuals have access to the care they need. 

Join Verite’s Mailing List | Get the news that matters to you

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Help inform our coverage as we build a newsroom for and by the people of New Orleans:

Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us by answering each question.

Rahn Kennedy Bailey, M.D., DLFAPA, ACP is the Kathleen and John Bricker Chair Professor & Head Department of Psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center.