Hood Health 101 tackles these emotional health issues that are often ignored in the hood
When talking about health the talks most concentrate on nutrition, disease or some other aspect that focuses solely on physical health. There is a complement to physical health which is mental health; something that isn’t fully addressed in the community of color. Addressing mental health is just as crucial as addressing any other health subject. Black and Brown people are afflicted with mental health issues just like the white community. There are challenges that arise though due to general issues of how health is viewed and addressed in the inner city amongst the community.
Mental health is not commonly talked about within the communities of Color due to several factor that involve shame, perception of weakness or being strong, attributing many disorders as “normal” or just “emotional”, attributing them as “spiritual” states, not having the tools to identify them and not having access to resources to treat them so the afflicted just “deals” with them. Original People (people of color) are afflicted with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorders at rates comparable to white people. Original people are also afflicted with various post traumatic stress disorders that are by-products of their environment (poverty ridden inner cities or poor rural areas) or that are by-products of some traumatic legacy event (colonization, slavery, displacement).
One general element of mental health that I want to deal with is R.A.P. which is resentment, anger and pain. R.A.P. is oftentimes the result of going through a traumatic event like the loss of a love one through death or an intense breakup. Humans share many traits with animals. One of them is the fight or flight instinct. When confronted with a perceived danger. The body is literally flooded with adrenaline and other hormones to the prepare the body to do one of those two actions. Humans though, unlike animals, can focus on notions of time outside of the immediate moment. So humans can dwell on the past or focus on the future. The result is that we can cause the body to react as though there is a clear and present danger when there isn’t. The body being flooded with these hormones that aren’t being used is a determent to health. When dealing with R.A.P., holding on to these mental weights lead to stress in the body that will set off or effect blood pressure, tension, headaches, depression, anxiety and other ailments.
There are many ways to deal with them. One way is that you either have to channel that energy into something physical. Physical activity often disperses the build up that is happening in your body due to R.A.P., depletes the hormones, generates positive hormones in the body such as endorphins (the feel good guys) and places physical activity into something productive. Another thing that one can do is practice ways of “letting go” of that non-productive trinity or changing your perception to not use them as weapons against your own body. Meditation involving breathing, yoga and visualization are a great tools to let go of suffering. Also, reflecting on R.A.P. in terms of what lessons that one is supposed to learn from the event or events that caused them to come about can be a beneficial way for you to use them for a positive effect.
In the end, don’t be afraid to seek out professional or non-traditional (friends, family, neighborhood elder, etc) folks to talk about what is going on in your head. Literally one’s “head exploding” may not happen yet trust me, when you have so much going on within your skull stress can make it definitely feel as though your brain is exploding. Just like physical health, preventive medicine and practices are key for healthy mental health. Take the time for you. Take the time to really look at where you are in life and where you want to be. Most importantly, take into consideration as to what it will take for you to get there. The real rap is that you can handle R.A.P. if you get on top of it, don’t ignore it and come up with a plan of action.