Health disparities continue to plague the Black community and are a direct result of the legacy of racism in the U.S. COVID-19 has brought social and racial injustice and inequity to the forefront of public health as communities for color have been disproportionately affected by the virus. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health will be focusing on understanding the impact COVID-19 has on African Americans with underlying health conditions. You can find information about the initiative through the Association for the Study of African American Life and History.
I invite everyone to learn more about health and wellness issues facing the African American community and find ways to support organizations who are filling in the gap. One organization to consider is the African American Wellness Project (AAWP) which “was organized to respond to the inequities in health care delivery that exists between African Americans and the rest of America.” The organization has four initiatives: Black Doctors Speak podcast, About Health-Ethnic Health, African American Wellness Project, and Health Education programs. AAWP aims to provide culturally relevant information, podcasts, webinars, and other health related resources to the African American community. The lack of culturally competent healthcare providers, misinformation about diseases, and stigmas surrounding care are areas AAWP aim to address.
One area of health and wellness impacted by negative stigmas are mental health conditions. Often, these conditions are viewed as weaknesses within the Black community. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) is acknowledging February as Black Mental Health month to bring awareness to mental health within Black communities while promoting the importance of community members as support. ADAA also seeks to bring awareness of mental health stigmas, depression and anxiety, choosing a therapist and accessing mental health resources. As part of their effort to destigmatize mental health conditions, ADAA encourages people to submit personal stories about ways in which they have learned to address and live with mental health challenges.
As we look to celebrate Black history month in February by honoring the achievements of African Americans, it is important to remember that African American history is also American history.
Challenge yourself to learn about the health and wellness gaps within the Black community. Commit to improving the lives of African Americans every month, not just February. Commit to moving from ally to accomplice.