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Mental Health Use Voices to Fight Stigma and Build Trust

The rise in depression and anxiety in America have been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial tensions that have occurred during the last year. These tragic events have increased awareness of mental health issues in the Black community. This issue was previously an issue that was considered taboo.

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 Patrice Harris, MD, a psychiatrist and Everyday Health's medical editor in chief at large, analyzes the stigma that is associated with mental illness, mistrust of the healthcare system and other factors that have prevented Black Americans from receiving appropriate treatment in the past, and outlines ways to ensure that mental health is as important as physical health.

 Stigma, which refers negative attitudes, beliefs and attitudes about mental health, are extremely common. "I've heard people say that if you've got an illness that is mental this implies that you've got a character flaw, moral flaws, are weak in character, or perhaps you did not pray enough," claims Dr. Harris. "But there's no shame in having a mental illness , and there's no shame in seeking help."

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 Black Americans have a history of distrust in the medical field. This includes 19th-century female gynecologic treatments for slave women, the forty-year-long U.S. Public Health Service Siphilis Study at Tuskegee and the removal and examination of Shenrietta Lacks's cervical cells, without her knowledge. However, existing socioeconomic and healthcare system inequities also play a part, as does the lack of cultural expertise and diversity among doctors. To improve health outcomes, you must have trust. Harris says "To be trusted , you must be reliable."

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