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In recent months, Black celebrities have been dominating the news cycle, bringing awareness to something that has been brushed aside for too long. From the recent suicide of NBC’s This is Us writer Jas Water, headlines of suicidal thoughts by Tamar Braxton and most recently, Kim Kardashian’s plea for compassion for the mental health of her husband, Kanye West, who is struggling with bipolar disorder, mental health is finally being brought into focus in the Black community, and it must be part of the Black lives matter (BLM) conversation. But when only 25% of African Americans seek mental health care, compared to 40% of the white community, it begs the question: Why has mental health been notoriously such a taboo topic for the Black community? And what can we be doing to eliminate these barriers?

A new report by the Mental Health Index reveals that Americans are continuing to struggle with mental health conditions, with 54% of participants reporting depression between Feb 3 and June 28 of this year. Suicidal thoughts can take hold when emotional or physical pain feels too overwhelming, with added feelings of hopeless and helpless. Suicide prevention, however, starts with providing empathy, support and access.

Black people are faced with significant barriers that prevent them from seeking treatment, including: