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The dire need for Black mental health assistance amid a consistent fight for social justice, equity

Multiple studies show Black people are less likely to receive mental health resources
Posted at 6:33 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 19:25:09-04

CLEVELAND — The images and videos of Black people killed or brutalized at the hands of law enforcement play out everywhere over and over again.

The videos reignite a frequent and familiar trauma in many black people.

“George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Tamir Rice is somebody that I can see coming in this barbershop,” said James Boyd, owner of Polished Professionals Barbershop.

Under the buzz of Andis trimmers in the barbershop, clients and their barbers cut back all the layers.

“I have a 16-year-old son getting his driver’s license and other youth that come to get their haircut from me,” said Boyd. “We tend to talk about driving around in traffic, the climate of police brutality, and how things are going right now.”

“I’m big on my younger customers, a lot of them went through a lot of stuff growing up and still are today,” said Tarelle Wilson. “So I try to keep everybody’s head in the right place, especially living in Cleveland. There’s a lot of stuff that happens as a young black man in Cleveland.”

Amid explosive outcry for justice and a pandemic where black people are disproportionately affected, we all need someone to talk to.

“African American communities don’t normally seek out mental health services, due to the untrusting nature and concerns of seeking it out, it is kind of taboo,” said Dawn Pullin, Behavioral Health and Addictions Director at the Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition.

A study reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports, 63% of black people believe a mental health condition is a weakness.

The American Psychological Association says only one in three African Americans who need mental healthcare will get it.

“Having that opportunity to reach out and have someone to talk to is not a taboo, it’s a benefit and I’ve done it,” said Pullin. “I’m a mental health professional and I tell people all the time, ‘therapy works if you work it.’”

Boyd and Wilson echo Pullin’s same message to their clients because they carry the pressure too.

“I do think that we all should go through therapy,” said Wilson. “I try to be a therapist because I have to talk to [my clients] and I try to talk to [them] when I’m going through stuff.”

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