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Steve Stephens Rampage Shows Black Male Mental Health Matters

by Todd A. Smith

 

 

Black Lives Matter in More Ways Than One


I hate it when bigots blame the Black Lives Matter movement for every crime committed by African-Americans like when the mentally unstable Shannon Miles killed police officer Darren Goforth in the Houston area in 2015.


The Black Lives Matter movement protests police brutality and the killing of Black men with impunity by some officers.  In essence what the movement says is that Black lives matter too and those who take our lives should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


However, a movement needs to be started in the Black community, which encourages Black men to seek mental health help instead of a movement that encourages men to hold on to all of their pain and pretend that seeking help is a sign of weakness.


The current mentality in the Black community might have contributed to the murder of Robert Godwin, Sr. of Cleveland allegedly at the hands of Steve Stephens who streamed the murder on Facebook Live on Easter Sunday.  Stephens later committed suicide in Erie, Pa.


While no one is attempting to overgeneralize the actions of the African-American community by insinuating that the community is monolithic, many cultural realities that the community takes pride in (like not seeking mental health help) are wrong and people are losing their lives as a result.


Steve Stephens allegedly had reached out to many people in his inner circle for help with life’s struggles but was dismissed because many did not believe he truly needed mental health help.


In a telephone conversation, which was also broadcasted on Facebook Live, he told a friend that he simply snapped.


Steve Stephens drove up to Godwin on the Cleveland streets and asked Godwin to say the name of his ex-girlfriend, Joy Lane.


The alleged murderer then told Godwin that his ex-girlfriend was the reason this was happening to him.


Steve Stephens then shot and killed Godwin and let the world see the heinous act on social media.


In 2016, Essence Magazine reported that, “According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, African-Americans are 20 percent more likely to have serious mental health problems than the general population.


“The pattern is more troubling for Black men because the factors that cause or exacerbate mental illness are often found in higher numbers among males in our community than they are in the general population.


“For example, Black men are more likely to have extended periods of unemployment than White men or women, according to the Department of Labor, and long-term joblessness can be a precursor to depression.


“Exposure to violence, drug use and other stressors lead to higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder.  In recent years there has also been a spike in suicides among Black boys.”


Getting mental health help for all of the stressors that Black men experience does not make one weak, and the African-American community needs to stop believing that seeking help makes one less than a man.


An argument can be made that Black men are beyond strong for being able to survive all of the obstacles that life ruthlessly throws their way.


Therefore, Black men seek help when you need help.


Your life and your health matters in more ways than one.


The community needs you.


And it is OK if you need something from others as well like mental or emotional support.


So what if those obstacles become too much to bear because who else has to deal with what Black men have to deal with?


Your struggles epitomize strength so do not get it twisted.

This article was published on Friday 21 April, 2017.
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