Self-harm is no laughing matter and having the courage to share your story or admit you need help to family or close friends is difficult for anyone to do … whatever your ethnicity or cultural background.
But from my experience, within the Afro-Caribbean community there is this belief that self-harming, mental health problems and depression are not a ‘black thing’. Many people in our community believe that only Caucasian people suffer with depression or mental illnesses and it’s this sort of mentality that leads to young black people failing to seek the help and advice they need.
According to The British Journal of Psychiatry black girls are surprisingly more likely to self-harm than white girls, but less likely to receive any type of treatment. Yes you read that right! With shocking facts such as that, it seems bizarre to me that I couldn’t find at least one online platform that offers support to black girls who self-harm.
Now of course, there are many platforms that offer young people support and guidance that black girls can turn to. But they don’t seem to feature how much of a big deal it is for black girls to tell their close family or friends about their problems and try to seek help.
When I was sixteen I use to self-harm, it was brought on by various things that were going on in my life from family issues to my deeply rooted insecurities. I never sought help, firstly because I was scared and because I was always being told that things like depression and mental illness was associated with white people. Eventually my mum saw the scars on my arms and we had a long discussion about depression and how I could actively seek help.
A few years later and my life couldn’t be better! But sometimes I do think about that little insecure black girl who self-harms because she is bullied at school, abused at home or dealing with family problems, who is telling her that it is okay to admit she needs help? Who is helping?
YES some black girls - and boys - do self-harm and it’s the cultural stigma that is deterring them from seeking help. Please if you are reading this and you are scared to admit you self-harm due to cultural shaming or embarrassment, understand that your family and friends do love you and there are people out there who will take time to listen and help you take the first step towards recovery. Post to our Question page or visit the Information page to get all you need to know, or maybe check out Alumina - our online course that give you the tools to move towards recovery.
Lateefah Jean-Baptiste is a 22 year old media researcher and writer from London. I like to write pieces that can encourage, help and inspire others like me. I am my happiest when I am around loved ones and as we're talking about what frustrates us this month, for me it's people who are unnecessarily rude and angry.