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Black Faith and Mental Health: Chaos or Community?

This month, the publication, The Lancet, released an article detailing the disparities in mental health for Black Americans that lead to unfavorable health outcomes and "increased morbidity from mental illness due to centuries of racism."

Read: In the aggregate, Black Americans are literally dying from the centuries-old effects of racism.

Mental stress is the new silent killer of Africans in America. Is the Black faith community thriving or headed toward chaos?

The Lancet article cites many factors contributing to Black mental malaise in America (although the systemic effects can be traced globally), including the "myth of Black inferiority, and scientific racial classification have all perpetuated disparities, leading to the current underestimation, misdiagnosis, and inadequate treatment of mental illness" in Black populations.

The effects of racism on the Black psyche are particularly evident in our religious communities as it relates to how we tend to cope with our distinctive American experience. These coping methods tend to deny the reality of our daily run-ins with a culture that is becoming frighteningly more malevolent as it relates to race relations.

Colloquialisms such as "I'm too blessed to be stressed" mask an underlying need for security, acceptance and a feeling of worth that is increasingly short-circuited by the politics of realism fomented by the extreme right.

Of many implications, polls show an increasing amount of Black support for Donald Trump and the MAGA agenda.

Here's the pivot: God created humanity to be healthy in our body, mind and spirit, and no other peoples inhabit this than God's "peculiar" community of believers. It is, therefore, our duty to tend to this God-given mandate.

How? By cultivating the garden of our mental experience not by denying the often painful reality of our sojourning in a race-baiting culture, but by coalescing our divinity in ways which transmute the power of God's grace in and through us.

The apostle Paul put it like this:

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.(2 Corinthians 4:8-12)

This is Paul admitting to a reality, not denying it. But he also acknowledges the hope and grace of Christ that is embedded in such realities.

We must move past worn-out platitudes and make the gospel of Jesus Christ a sustaining source of empowerment in our daily lives.

Pastor W. Eric Croomes is a Faith Influencer and the Believers Coach.

Real people. Real issues. Real belief.

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