Did you hear? Chicago’s very own Chance the Rapper pledged to donate $1 million to mental health services in the city of Chicago. According to CBS News, six mental health providers in Cook County will each get $100,000 grants. Chance’s non-profit, “Social Work” will be starting an initiative called State of Mind. The initiative will work to help connect people with mental illness to treatment. Lately, with the death of rapper Mac Miller and Chance taking this pledge to donate to mental health services, there has been a lot of conversation around mental health and illnesses, especially within the Black community.
CBSNews.com reported that Chance said he wants to change the accessibility of mental health resources, “With the help of Social Works we want to change the way that mental health resources are being accessed by you.”
For years the issue of mental illness has been ignored and swept under the rug in the Black community. The Black community often thinks of mental illness as a myth, as if it doesn’t exist but, in actuality mental illness is an issue that is impacting this demographic of people in a huge way. According to Mental Health America, “13.2 percent of the U.S. population identifies as Black or African of those, over 16 percent had a diagnosable mental illness in the past year. That is more than 6.8 million people.”
African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. They mainly suffer from mental health disorders that include: major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, suicide, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are more likely to experience mental illness due to encountering different risk factors such as homelessness and exposure to violence. The issues surrounding mental health and illness have been ignored in the Black community due to the lack of resources and information. A plethora of Black households leave their concerns on mental health and illness up to their faith and religious beliefs.
In order to raise awareness about mental health in the Black community, resources must be provided so that there is access to medication, excellent health care, and education on the topic, as well as coping advice for caregivers. Although there are mental health centers in Chicago, such as the Heartland Alliance or Illinois Psychiatric Society, there are not enough mental health centers within low-income communities or middle-class Black communities to assist people in dealing with their illnesses. Hopefully Chance’s donation can help fix that.
By Amber N. Anderson, Senior, Kenwood Academy