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Wellness Wednesday: Mental health matters

Mental health
Note: In addition to recognizing the achievements of African Americans during Black History Month, the Wellness Wednesday column will also acknowledge specific health issues affecting the community and ways we can address them.

Mental health matters every day for every individual. It's important to understand Black mental health and find ways to support, care and reduce the inequities and barriers to equal access to care.

One way you can do this is by becoming trained as a Mental Health First Aider at DePaul. A nationally recognized program, Mental Health First Aid, or MHFA, teaches participants how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness, provide adequate and timely support and connect people to resources.

Mental health conditions occur in Black and African American people in America at about the same or even less frequently than in White Americans. Black Americans, however, are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health illnesses than the general population, according to Mental Health America​, a community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all. Additionally, only one third of adult Black Americans who need mental health care actually receive it.  About 63% of Black Americans think mental illness is a sign of personal weakness or a personal failing, according to MHA.

Particularly now more than ever, we have seen the need for mental health services and support in every community. Because of racial inequities and barriers to access, it can be much more difficult for Black Americans to receive and get support services.

In the words of the author, journalist and teacher, Bebe Moore Campbell: “People of color, particularly African Americans, feel the stigma more keenly. In a race-conscious society, some don't want to be perceived as having yet another deficit."

DePaul community members can learn more about MHFA here. Sign up today to support mental health and wellness at DePaul University by attending one of the following trainings:

These trainings are open to all DePaul faculty, staff and students. Questions? Email