Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from depression each year. African-American women are affected more than any other group in the U.S. In 2009, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reported that only 12 percent of African-American women receive treatment for their depression, the number one cause of suicides in this country. So why aren’t more African-American women receiving treatment? Some aren’t knowledgeable of depression’s symptoms, but for those who are and acknowledge that they’re depressed, a stigma within the African-American community prevents them from seeking treatment. This same stigma is responsible for the scarce research and lack of formal statistics on depression amongst African-American women, as many are unwilling to participate in research studies.
Wilkins-Hines identifies the number one reason for seeking treatment with depression is because it can lead to suicide. “Sometimes our hormonal levels get so low that we start to rationalize suicide, like it’s our only way out. It gives us a sense of peace.”