This year’s theme focused on “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.” Teen suicide rates in the United States of America are on the rise. This is a strange phenomenon among Africans . Last June the Cameroon Community of the D.C. area was in shock when a young man committed suicide. It turned out he had been diagnosed with a mental disorder.
While the world reflects on the mental health of our young people, I would like on this day to reflect on the mental health of African immigrant men in the United States of America. When a woman divorces a man, hardly does anyone of them go into counseling to deal with the delirious effects of the previous marriage. Many simply move on as if the past is a non-event. A lot of wounds, hurts, regrets and bitterness that need sorting through and sorting out for a healthy kick off. A lot of domestic violence happens as a result of too much pent up anger, rancor and unresolved tensions that boil over. Isn’t there some truth to the song recently distributed on whatsapp about Cameroonian men in Maryland who spend hours dousing alcohol and liquor in the hope of avoiding and filtering out the noise from home?
It would be interesting to find out how many of us have ever seen a counselor for anything? Ask the next friend you meet when they last had a mental health check up and if that conversation lasts beyond a second then you are lucky. Why is there a recommendation for an annual physical and no recommendation for an annual mental health examination. Just as we need physicians so do we need mental health specialists call them therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists. Did I mention psychiatrists? What a taboo!
Dear friends, it is not a taboo to have mental health issues. Too many of us are depressed and are seeking for answers in the wrong place. It is not witchcraft! Do not be fooled that you have been bewitched by an uncle or an aunt envious of your family success! It is real and there is help out there.
My dear brothers, mental health is a big business venture in D.C. We who take care of persons with mental challenges need to take care of ourselves too. Very often, we are just a step away from the persons we take care of. Mental illness is becoming an alarming trend in our African immigrant community and let us start sounding the alarm bells. For men only? Nego! The Good News: There is so much help!