In honor of mental health month, or week, or whatever (for my opinion on the matter, and the solid reasoning behind my opinion click here) I’d like to take a moment to discuss something that isn’t spoken about very often until another study comes out proving the same statistics over and over again.
If you’d like to read the original article (from which I’ll be taking quotations as well,) you can also click here.
The subject is schizophrenia and race.
Race is a touchy subject. Schizophrenia is as well, in my opinion: it’s something many people don’t understand, something some people refuse to understand, and as a result it isn’t spoken of often in the general public, not as openly as depression and anxiety.
I could spend a good four or five blog posts on the stigma behind schizophrenia and how bad I want to punch idiots in the face. But I won’t. I can’t make any guarantees about the punching though.
Race is something many people refuse to recognize as a social construction and therefore it becomes a way to fuel our human instinct to judge.
So when you mix the two, it’s obvious it’s not a subject you’d bring up over coffee with your average “neurotypical” and expect them to not do this:
The article I read, published on may 20, 2016 states the same old statistics that I’ve known for years:
African-Americans are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than whites and less likely to receive medication to treat the condition.
And this is according to a new study published.
And the response from the professionals who receive these statistics is the same as usual:
“It’s concerning that we saw a higher rate of diagnosis of schizophrenia and seemingly an undertreatment in terms of pharmacotherapy for that group . . . In general, pharmacotherapy is an important part of the treatment plan. That’s a finding that warrants some additional research.”
The woman who said that co-authored the study. What’s peculiar to me is their language. It’s just “concerning” that certain ethnic groups are being targeted specifically (or subconsciously,) and left to the deal with their own demons on their own time when there are treatments available for them to try. It’s a finding that “Warrants additional research”? Really? What the fuck is research going to do?
Now, let me and my ghetto self butt in for a moment, because I grew up with a very southern, black part of my family and a very midwestern, polish, White part of my family. It is not a secret that in African American hosueholds, mental health is not taken very seriously. In many ethnic groups this is the case. It’s seen as a weakness or a personality flaw that warrants seclusion. It’s also the case that most ethnic groups are of a lower socioeconomic status (which, remember, is a larger contributing factor to mental illness than people give it credit for) and without insurance, so the prospects of treatment, of expensive psychiatrists, of expensive therapy, of expensive medication, are pretty much nil.
*Remember, you save a huge blow to your finances if you see a psychiatrist who also provides therapy services.*
“White patients were 77.8 percent more likely than other racial groups to receive medication.”
Once again, health insurance, money: all very important when receiving medication. Does this statistic mean the medical industry is racist? I don’t believe so. Does it mean there is a gap between treatment of races? Absolutely: of course there is, for finance reasons, so societal reasons, for family reasons. The problem isn’t just in the medical industry, it isn’t something that can be solved with “more research”, it’s a problem ingrained in the deepest corners of American history that we’ve, well, ignored.
It’s all nice and well to apologize for slavery, it’s all nice and well to encourage hispanic kids into college, to enjoy Chinese food, to talk for ten minutes in public school about Native American culture (ten minutes is better than it used to be) as long as you don’t continue on with the same under the rug bigoted behavior.
Which we have.
For many years.
What was the point of the apology?
“Interestingly enough, Native American/Alaskan Native patients had the highest rate of any diagnosis at 20.6 percent, and Asian patients had the lowest rates at 7.5 percent.”
That’s a cute statistic. We are all aware of how stigmatized mental health is in Asian communities, I am sure. To be quite honest, it would be hard to distinguish schizotypy in patients with a culture rich in signs, symbols, ancestry, stars, and hallucinogens which are heavily present in Native American culture. There are some native cultures whose medicine doctors snort some of the world’s most potent hallucinogens, take a second to themselves, and then use the trip they go on as a way to heal their patients. They manipulate the hallucinations, the emotions they gain, and believe it a portal to the spirit world.
Hand if off to a westerner and they’ve been known to run off into the forest with their mind miles away from them.
The Office of Minority Health reported Black adults are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness and worthlessness in comparison to white adults.
I wonder why.
Perhaps more African-American physicians are necessary to even the gap between Blacks and whites. The 1999 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health found that Black doctors are five times more likely than white doctors to treat Black patients, and African-American patients consistently rated their Black physicians higher when it comes to bedside manner. Respondents said Black doctors had a more participatory style of interaction.
And this makes the article all worth it, in my opinion. It’s not a matter of “perhaps”, it’s a matter of necessity. Not only for fair treatment of ethnics, but as a way to boost overall morale of all ethnic groups: we need people our children can look up to, people our children can see are successful not because their black or Asian, or white or Hispanic, but because they had a vision for themselves, a passion, and they went after it.
People think it’s about their own race “comin’ up in the game”, but it’s not. It’s about seeing someone you relate to, someone you can understand, make something of themselves. And that’s more powerful than any skin pigmentation.
Like I’ve stated before, I’m one of the lucky ones. I grew up accepting every asset of myself, my fantasy world, the weird way I shove random words from my face hole with shocking inconsistency, and as I’ve grown older the things I hear that others don’t, the things I catch glimpses of that others don’t, the people (every human being) I mistrust, the insomnia, the signs, the this, the that.
I say I’m lucky because I’ve never had the displeasure of breaking from reality indefinitely. I say I’m lucky because what I experience isn’t nearly as bad as what others do. Not yet.
That doesn’t mean things aren’t annoying. For example, one reoccurring hallucination I call “megaphone” I think I’ve talked about briefly. Essentially it sounds like someone right next to my ear whose voice echos all down the street and all around my space, but hasn’t moved from my side. I can’t ever understand what they say, it’s just a mush pot of words.
Today it startled me twice. He usually comes around when I’ve been stressed. Although it sounded right next to me, it also sounded like it was coming from the lawn of the apartment across the street. But when I looked there was no one. No cars bumping loud music (that’s a first for that complex), no apartments bumping loud music (yet another first), and no kids screaming running around the grass (a third first). No live music, no microphones, nothing. Just dead silence. Except, of course, for the megaphone mumbling.
Yo, I had a drink called a “Zombie” tonight at this place:
They served it in a tiki zombie ceramic cup. It was delicious: Rum, passion fruit, pineapple and lime juice. Delicious.
Anyway, I deal with megaphone-for-brains often. I mistake silence or thuds and crashes for voices all the time, I hear my name all over the place, yada, yada, other things: beliefs that I have evidence to support that people still seem to deny exist, women in bowling alleys conspiring with their friends to talk about me just because I was aware of their existence and probably would have spiked my drink last night if I had had one there too, blah, blah! You get it.
I talk a lot about my anxiety and depression. But not much about these things. Why? Well, depression is a crippling disorder, there’s no doubt about that. So is anxiety. The majority of the population experiences some or all of the disorder at some point in their life. The same can’t be said for Schizotypal PD.
So I understand why African American families are wary of mental disorders and diagnosis, especially when it comes to something as life-alerting as schizophrenia. I understand we don’t like to talk about it: it just sounds plain ridiculous and ignorance is bliss. But since when has ignoring something ever made it go away?
*Cough* Racism *COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH*
Sorry, I had a political tickle in my throat.
This is the why sharing is such a huge asset to those of us in the mental health community: fuck trying to change people, that’s gotten us no where. We need to know that if no one else on the outside is there for us, than someone on the inside is.
What happens when we’re not there for each other? Well, those aforementioned statistics, suicides and misery.
I used to wonder why people don’t believe in they self
and then I saw the way they portrayed us to everyone else.
They cursed us, to only see the worst in ourselves
Blind to the fact the whole time we were hurtin’ ourselves