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Mental health in Black Cincinnati is done flying under the radar. It is time to educate ourselves and take action.


July is Minority Mental Health Awareness month. It is reported that 1 in 4 people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Even though minority mental health is only given consciousness for one month, it should be advocated for every day.  


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According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population. Mental health problems include depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and suicide. Today, music artists and humanitarians use their platforms to bring awareness to these issues. Hip-hop artist Logic released   1-800-273-8255, in 2017 to raise awareness about suicide.

It’s common for situations like these to lead African Americans to faith leaders to discuss their issues, rather than a licensed professional. Church clergies are now being trained to counsel depression and mental illnesses from the members of their congregation. Some may see this as inadequate treatment, although it is the help that many are seeking. Read more about it in the below facts.

1. The rate of African American adults who suffer from depression and receive mental health treatment or counseling is half the rate of Caucasian adults.

Research shows African Americans do not want to identify with mental health because of the cultural stigmas of being mentally broken, crazy or sick. Though mental health issues are statistically present in African Americans, seeking help from a licensed medical professional is less prevalent.

In 2016, over 10.4 percent of African Americans, 12.9 percent of Caribbean Blacks, and 17.9 percent of non-Hispanic Whites have had a Major Depressive Disorder at some point in life. However, among participants with depression, the rate of chronic depression was highest in Black groups. African Americans led with 56.5 percent, followed by Caribbean Black with 56 percent in Caribbean Blacks, compared to Whites with 38.6 percent.

2. There are six signs to know if you or someone you know may be experiencing mental health issues.
– Anxiety
– Hopelessness
Irritability or being easily agitated
– Isolation from the core group or a previously enjoyed activity
– Stress
– Self-medicating with food, alcohol, drugs or other substances.  

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3. Most low-income African Americans who suffer from mental health issues only access treatment when they are incarnated, hospitalized or homeless.

“What plays a greater role in mental health than race is socioeconomic status. People who live under the poverty level have greater barriers to treatment. Because of this, most persons in poverty, including many African Americans, will access treatment only after they have been incarnated, hospitalized or homeless”, says Kandi Staples, MSW, LISW-S.

According to a 2015 survey by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Black adults ages 18 and over are marginally more likely to report serious psychological distress than White, with 3.4 and 3.2 percent of the population respectively. However, other factors such as joblessness, poverty, and incarceration affect rates of mental health issues as well. The same survey reports that serious psychological distress is at least twice as likely to be reported in Black adults living below the poverty line than those living above it.

4. In 2015, 8.9 percent of African American high school students attempted suicide

Tragically, the dangers of psychological disorders extend to Black children as well. Per the National Alliance on Mental Illness, half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. In 2015, 14.5 percent of Black students in grades 9-12 seriously considered suicide, and 8.9 percent of Black students attempted to take their lives.

5. Most health insurance plans cover mental health treatment and counseling.

As of 2014, most individuals and small group health insurance plans, including plans sold in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, are required to cover mental health and substance use disorder services. Medicaid Alternative Benefit Plans also must cover mental health and substance use disorder services. Call your provider today to find out more.

6. At least three Cincinnati African American mental health providers are accepting new clients.

Mental Health in Black Cincinnati


Many African Americans want to see African American medical providers. Cincinnati is fortunate to be home to these three African American mental health providers ~ A Sound Mind Counseling, Dr. Rochelle Buckley and Dr. Dwonna Thompson-Lenoir.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness recommends that while you should go directly to a mental health professional if you do not feel comfortable right away, a primary care doctor is a wonderful place to start the assessment to determine if you have a mental health condition or help refer you to a mental health professional.

Research shows that over 90 percent of African Americans believe that prayer is important in dealing with stressful life events versus 66.7 percent of Whites. African American clergy has an impressive history of service within the Black community. The church, so to speak, can provide counseling and relief of social stressors for its community and congregation, if proper programming is in place. A 2016 study provided church clergy with Depression Training Workshop.

This workshop included depression in African American children and adolescents; depression in adults; bipolar disorder in African Americans; and suicide issues. Module topics included the origins of depression, diagnostic criteria, epidemiology of depression, behaviors frequently seen in African Americans who are depressed, cultural beliefs and barriers that prevent African Americans from seeking care from mental health professionals, risk factors, and treatment options. The best part of churches adapting this workshop and offering their services is that insurance is not required. It may be possible for more uninsured African Americans to seek the help they need.

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The good news is a 2017 Interact for Health Community Survey reports that African Americans in the Greater Cincinnati area are getting the help they need as 45 percent feel they do an excellent or exceptionally good job managing their stress.

Here are a few resources in the Cincinnati area for individuals and families suffering from mental health issues.

Cincinnati VA Medical Center is a branch of the Cincinnati Veteran Affairs that provides evaluation and treatment for a variety of issues that can impact the emotional health and well-being of veterans.

Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services is one of the largest mental health agencies in the area, serving individuals in Cincinnati through a variety of programs since 2004.

National Alliance on Mental Illness Urban Greater Cincinnati is the Greater Cincinnati branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs of Cincinnati is a state-funded organization designed to combat drug and alcohol abuse among African and Hispanic Americans in Ohio. They provide a selection of services for various ages.

Mental Health First Aide helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. In these courses, you learn risk factors and warning signs of mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help for adults and youth. Find a course near you to learn more about mental health in Black Cincinnati today.


Mental health is a critical concern for everyone, young and old. If you know of programs in the area or information we have missed, please let us know at The Voice of Black Cincinnati.



The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans in the region. Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Facebook or text VOBC to 513-270-3880 for local news, events, job postings, scholarships and a database of local Black-owned businesses.


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Written by Crystal Kendrick

President of The Voice of Your Customer and founder of The Voice of Black Cincinnati.


  1. Hi,
    Thank you so much for addressing this issue. The Black community, especially the Black church, refuses to acknowledge the importance of pursuing mental health care. It is very difficult to address unless a person has been perceived to be in a severe a case. My being an example, I have sought consultation that has been very helpful. One of the ways to help control my depression is my taking prescribed medicine. It is very challenging at 54 years old and a second two year marriage. Again it is great to see someone in our community who seeks to bring the issue of mental health care to the surface.



      1. Charles, I agree totally and thank you for sharing your experience. This is also a great article.

  2. Thank you for the information! Would you be willing to speak at my church corinthian Baptist Church , Pastor K Z Smith for our Behavioal and Mental health ministry ?

  3. Good article, are you aware of the efforts by Dr. Victor Garcia of Children’s Hospital here in Cincinnati. He has taken the initiative to address the issue to the heart of the African American community with trainings of the people most affected from the trauma that creates and promotes much of the mental health issues we are faced with.
    If anyone is interested in knowing more or joining the effort to eradicate the on going mental health issues here in Cincinnati give Dr.Victor Garcia a call at 513 803-7406, ask for Ashley

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