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Is ‘Strong Black Womanhood’ Killing Our Sisters?

Historically, suicide rates in the Black community were lower than Whites and other ethnic groups however, recent research has identified an increase in rates due to the tendency of the community to explain a suicide as an accidental death and/or even the result of homicide.

Researchers have also highlighted suicide risk and protective factors for Black women. Common risks include unresolved childhood abuse and resulting trauma reactions, relationship with an abusive partner; experiences with racism and managing the chronicity of daily hassles, while connection to family, friends, and community, as well as the ability to ask for help and resources when needed were deemed protective factors. Effective treatment for depressed Black women focuses on increasing hopefulness and self-esteem through interpersonal connections. Does all this mean the key to treating Black women’s depression is to remove our SBW armor and allow ourselves to be more vulnerable?

Read More at EBONY.

Black Women and Health: Extreme Stress Causes Accelerated Biological Aging

seniore-pf

You’ve probably heard the expression “black don’t crack,” a reference to black women’s ageless beauty. But though their skin may be smooth and wrinkle-free on the outside, black women are aging faster than white women on the inside, health experts say.

Dr. Michelle Gourdine, a former deputy secretary of health and chief public health physician for Maryland, explains that extreme stress causes wear and tear on our internal organs, contributing to heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke in black women—all diseases of aging. “The cells that make up your heart, your blood vessels, whatever else, begin to age prematurely because of all the stress, and that predisposes you to disease,” says Gourdine, author of Reclaiming Our Health: A Guide to African American Wellness.

She points to a 2010 National Institutes of Health study titled “Do US Black Women Experience Stress-Related Accelerated Biological Aging?” The study’s authors analyzed data from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation and found that black women between the ages of 49 and 55 are 7.5 years biologically “older” than white women

Continue Reading at The Root.

Study Links Child Abuse to Adult Obesity in Black Women

I am not a big fan of reality TV especially the programs that deal with psychologically fragile individuals. So imagine my surprise when I became addicted to a show called My Strange Addiction. The individuals in this show don’t really have addictions but have a combination of eating disorders, anxiety disorders and objectophilas. What is unusual about this show is several episodes that feature black women. The commenters on several of these episodes indicate how little empathy there is for the suffering of black women. One woman had a case of a germ phobia obsessive compulsive disorder so severe that she cleaned close to 8 hours a day. Commenters suggested that she get a job as a maid. Another woman had Pica, a compulsive eating disorder which manifested, in consuming dry wall. Many commenters said that she should just get a construction job. The case that really tugged at my heart was a woman who carried he childhood pillow everywhere she went. She, along with many other of the women featured on the show had a history of child sexual abuse. I cringed when her white fiancee called her pillow black & dirty. Many commenters stated that he should just grab the pillow & burn it. The majority of these black women featured eating disorders, a set of illnesses that are seen as the purview of white women in popular culture. My Strange Addiction not only featured African American women who ate dry wall, but scotch tape, fabric softener sheets, toilet paper and couch cushions. Sadly, over a third of the black women featured on the refused to follow up on treatment even if they had life threatening conditions.

Black women have to live with the stereotype that we are preternaturally strong, often to our detriment. Black women do not report sexual abuse because they can face scorn instead of support from friends, family and community. Desiree Washington, teenager Amber Cole and the 14 year old that R. Kelly attacked were vilified and thier perpetrators defended. The rape of black women was legal until 1975 and sex crimes against black women have the lowest follow up rate of all ethnicity/races. The century’s long belief that black woman are hypersexual harlots also contributes to blame the victim mentality around African America sexual abuse survivors. To make a long story short, a great many black women are living out Precious’ story in real life.

The incidence of child sexual abuse in the lives of black women has not been subjected scientific observation, but a recent study indicates that child sexual abuse may be a significant factor in growing obesity epidemic in black women. The study conducted by Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD, of Boston University concluded that severe physical and sexual abuse in childhood or the teen years predicted 29% higher risk of overall and abdominal obesity than the female population in general, but nearly 58% of the African American women reported at least one instance of sexual or physical assault or witnessed violence by age 18. The study used a sample population of readers of Essence Magazine whose audience represent a wide cross-section of African America women. The self-report measures utilized may be biased towards underreporting, so a larger study is needed with a would yield more accurate adults. Further work in this area is vital to combat the idea that black women are simply lazy or even worse metabolically unable to benefit from diet and exercise. Instead of scorn and ridicule, black women need support to tackle these trauma based eating disorders so they can live the long healthy lives they deserve. If you or someone you love has experienced child sexual abuse here are some sites to help you in your journey to recovery.

Recognizing Child Abuse & Neglect

Parenting a child who has been sexually abused

Medical News: Study Links Child Abuse to Adult Obesity – in Primary Care, Obesity from MedPage Today.

The Rape, Abuse and Incest Network

Adult Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

What Tami Said: Fat black women feel too good about themselves

We have a racial misogyny BINGO for you today. Fat black women feel too good about themselves.

The Huff Post quotes a study that states that hefty black women with high self esteem have serious issues. They are too crazy to loose weight. The comments on how disgusting black women are compared to white women are numerous. Poor black women live in communities bereft of healthy food alternatives. Black women are expected to care more for others than themselves. Black female obesity is also correlated with histories of depression & sexual abuse. Instead of investgating these confounding factors, it is so much easier to label black women as defective.

Proof That Homophobia Is Associated with Homosexual Arousal

This is why I LOVE science!

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via Proof That Homophobia Is Associated with Homosexual Arousal.

Both groups exhibited increases in penile circumference to the heterosexual and female homosexual videos. Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli. The groups did not differ in aggression. Homophobia is apparently associated with homosexual arousal that the homophobic individual is either unaware of or denies.

Childhood Memories of Father Have Lasting Impact on Men’s Ability to Handle Stress

Not my usual post but I though this was interesting.

ScienceDaily
Aug. 13, 2010
Sons who have fond childhood memories of their fathers are more likely to be emotionally stable in the face of day-to-day stresses, according to psychologists who studied hundreds of adults of all ages.

Psychology professor Melanie Mallers, PhD, of California State University-Fullerton presented the findings August 12 at the 118th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

“Most studies on parenting focus on the relationship with the mother. But, as our study shows, fathers do play a unique and important role in the mental health of their children much later in life,” Mallers said during a symposium focusing on social relationships and well-being.

For this study, 912 adult men and women completed short daily telephone interviews about that day’s experiences over an eight-day period. The interviews focused on the participants’ psychological and emotional distress (i.e., whether they were depressed, nervous, sad, etc.) and if they had experienced any stressful events that day. These events were described as arguments, disagreements, work-related and family-related tensions and discrimination.

The participants, who were between the ages of 25 and 74, also reported on the quality of their childhood relationships with their mother and father. For example, they answered questions such as, “How would you rate your relationship with your mother during the years when you were growing up?” and “How much time and attention did your mother give you when you needed it?” The same questions were asked about fathers. The research controlled for age, childhood and current family income, neuroticism and whether or not their parents were still alive.

Participants were more likely to say their childhood relationship with their mother was better than with their father, with more men reporting a better mother-child relationship than women, according to Mallers. People who reported they had a good mother-child relationship reported 3 percent less psychological distress compared to those who reported a poor relationship.

“I don’t think these results are surprising, given that past research has shown mothers are often the primary caregiver and often the primary source of comfort,” said Mallers. “It got interesting when we examined the participants’ relationship with their fathers and their daily emotional reaction to stress.”

Men who reported having a good relationship with their father during childhood were more likely to be less emotional when reacting to stressful events in their current daily lives than those who had a poor relationship, according to her findings. This was not found to be as common for the women in the study.

Also, the quality of mother and father relationships was significantly associated with how many stressful events the participants confronted on a daily basis. In other words, if they had a poor childhood relationship with both parents, they reported more stressful incidents over the eight-day study when compared to those who had a good relationship with their parents.

Mallers theorized why healthy or unhealthy relationships may have an effect on how people handle stress as adults. “Perhaps having attentive and caring parents equips children with the experiences and skills necessary to more successfully navigate their relationships with other people throughout childhood and into adulthood,” she said.

She added it was difficult to come up with a concrete theory as to why men’s relationship with their father had such an influence on their emotional reaction to stress, especially since this study included adults of all ages who were raised during very different eras in the United States.

“The role of fathers has changed dramatically from the time the oldest participants were children,” added Mallers. “We do know that fathers have a unique style of interacting with their children, especially their sons. We need more research to help us uncover further influences of both mothers and fathers on the enduring emotional experiences of their children.”

ABWW History Lesson of the Day: Ruby McCollum and Paramour Rights

Contrary to what many non-blacks think black people do not spend a lot of time talking about our history in this country. My opinion is that it is simply too painful and many do not know enough about our history to know that along with the terrorism, the are stories of resilience and triumph. This sadly is not one of them. Paramour rights is a term coined by the great writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Huston. During her studies of turpentine camps in the 1930’s she found that white men would pick black women out for sexually coercive relationships whether they were married or not. This practice which many like to think ended with slavery was alive and well in the 1950’s when of Ruby McCollum, a middle class, married black woman who murdered her white lover and father of two children, Dr. C. Leroy Adams, in Live Oak, Florida, in 1952. When McCollum testified during her 1954 trial she stated that her doctor had forced her to bear his child, and then threatened to kill her if she refused to bear him a second child. The all-white jury convicted her of murder and McCollum was sentenced to die in the electric chair while still pregnant with Adams’ child. She appealed, and three months ago the State Supreme Court ordered a new trial on the ground that the jury had inspected the murder scene without the judge and Ruby McCollum being present. But Ruby was pronounced insane and, instead of being retried, was sent to Florida State Mental Hospital at Chattahoochee and was not released until 1980. McCollum was unable to recall most of the events the led up to her institutionalization since her “illness” was treated with Electroconvulsive therapy and anti-psychotic medication.

The era between the Civil War and the modern civil rights is marked with the untold abuse of black women, that I contend contributes to the intensification of black woman hateration over he last 40 years. In this period black women fought to live up to the standards of mainstream white femininity, but how could they do that when white men could debase them at anytime without any fear of legal consequences? Most black women did not have the luxury to be full time homemakers like the standards of femininity required, they were in the homes of white men that still saw his access to a black woman’s body was a God given right? Black men were not economically capable of giving their women the protection of a stay at home wife and risked his life and his family if her attempted to defend his woman’s honor. This phenomenon was on the wane but still in practice during the civil rights movement yet we never discuss it and the impact that decades this abuse may had on black families? Did the pain, anger, frustration of black men who were unable to protect their wives contribute to the contempt many black men have for us today

There are several books and a play about this case available at Amazon Check it out if you want to know more about this vital yet forgotten piece of American history.

ABWW Health Alert: Racism shapes African-American women’s views on depression care

Another study that supports the idea that the “strong black woman” act is destroying our health.
If you are feeling depressed don’t believe the hype! Get help, depression is a treatable illness.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Tamara Hargens-Bradley
African-American women’s beliefs about depression and depression care are consistently and systematically influenced by racism, according to a new study conducted at Oregon Health & Science University. The results are published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

To be eligible for the study, participants had to be 18 or older, consider themselves African-American, have a score of 15 or higher on Patient Health Questionnaire Depression scale and have experienced intimate partner violence at some time in their lives. Thirty women participated in four private focus groups facilitated by African-American female community members of the research team.

Study participants were asked about their experiences and beliefs surrounding the relationship between violence and health in general, mental health, depression, and depression treatments. They also were asked to discuss their recommendations for improving depression care. The researchers found one issue dominated discussions about depression care — the participants’ deep mistrust of what they perceived to be a “White” health care system.

“These women were extremely wary of most depression treatments and providers they associated with ‘White’ systems of care. Although they acknowledged that violence, depression and substance abuse adversely affected their health, discussions about health care revolved around their perceptions of racism,” said Christina Nicolaidis, M.D., M.P.H., principal investigator and an associate professor of medicine (general internal medicine and geriatrics), and public health and preventive medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine. “Based on our findings, we recommend health and mental health providers endeavor to better understand and acknowledge how racism informs the experiences and perceptions of their patients.”

The expectation of being a “strong Black woman” also was a significant barrier to recognizing depression and seeking care. Co-investigator S. Renee Mitchell has used this finding to launch a campaign asking: “Strong Black woman – what are you burying, your feelings or the myth?” The research team also has organized several community depression and violence awareness events titled “Redefining the Blues.” An additional event is planned for the fall.

Study participants expressed a desire for community-based depression programs that addressed violence and drug use and are staffed by African-Americans with “real-life experiences.” In response to this request, the research team used their study data to create a community-based, culturally tailored depression-care program, which they currently are pilot-testing at Bradley-Angle House’s Healing Roots Center, a drop-in center for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

The researchers make clear that their results aren’t reflective of all African-American depressed women, especially those who live in places with larger African-American populations, those with higher incomes and those who have not experienced intimate partner violence.

“Future study is needed to test the generalizability of our findings, as well as the effectiveness of culturally specific interventions in reducing depressions severity and improving depression care among African-American women,” the researchers concluded.

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