Mental health among Black men has been a topic of discussion for decades, with a variety of studies pointing out how hard it is for any male – let alone one of color - to seek help. Add in an extra layer of psychological stress, economic challenges, and racial discrimination and experts say the need becomes critical.
"It's a matter of gender socialization and racial socialization, " says Prof. Christopher St. Vil, from the University at Buffalo School of Social Work. St.Vil studies masculinities and health, violence and trauma, and has worked with Black youths in Buffalo on issues of toxic masculinity- and the messages that young men get when growing up.
"The messages that men in the U.S. get from society, basically tells them how they think men should be... 'Men should not be weak', 'Men should always be in control', (and) that emotions are basically a feminine characteristic, that men are discouraged from seeking help. "Secondly, in the Black community there is an averson to therapy. Because of a lack of education, we view that as a white thing, that therapy was developed for white people by white people," St. Vil says. Below, hear more with St. Vil with WBFO Reporter Thomas O’Neil-White in an online discussion as part of the WBFO Racial Equity project, supported by The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.