Every awkward (or maybe most) black girl’s favorite show right now is HBO’s Insecure. And for those not-so-awkward black girls, BET’s Being Mary Jane, I’m pretty sure is high on the list. These two TV shows document the lives of two Black female characters as they navigate through their separate life journeys. Though distinct from one another, what makes these two television shows a hit among black female viewers is the ability of the writers, directors, and actresses to capture what it means to be a black woman in America, be it an awkward or not-so-awkward black woman. The ability of these shows to effectively tell our stories is what draws black women to them. Everything from Mary Jane’s and Issa’s complex relationships with men, the bonds that they share with their sister-friends, or the issues that they face while on their jobs are all issues that black women can relate to. What makes these shows so great and relatable is their cultural appropriateness and creative ability to depict issues that are not so glamorous, among them the strong black superwoman syndrome and mental health among black women.
Mental illness within the Black/African American community is a very real issue, yet we (the Black community) pay very little attention to our mental health status. Often associated with negative stigma, we often neglect to discuss mental health and depression and sweep the issue under the rug. If we continue down this path, unfortunately we will continue to lose more young and brilliant minds due to suicide, because of our turning of a blind eye to the issue.
The numbers do not lie and there is an increasing amount of research that demonstrates mental health problems and depression are rising issues within the Black community.
Although we only make up 13.2 percent of the population, over 16.2 percent of the Black community has a diagnosable mental illness, that is over 6.8 million Black or African Americans living with a diagnosed mental health illness.