The rebellious streak many children are born with has stayed with one increasingly influential demographic through young adulthood, as Black millennials have embraced the topic of mental health in ways their parents would never have imagined. 

While the African-American community has traditionally avoided seeking mental health therapy, “there’s been a tremendous shift, starting about seven years ago,” Asha Tarry, a social worker and psychotherapist, told NewsOne. Tarry, a life coach with a practice in New York City, said most of her clients are millennials from throughout the African Diaspora.

“They see mental health as a necessity for self-development,” she stated ahead of Tuesday, which marked the annual World Mental Health Day. “They are not accepting their parents’ ways of dealing with stress, and millennials certainly don’t view seeking out a therapist as a sign of weakness.”

One major key to improving mental health awareness is understanding that mental illness is not a personal handicap, Tarry said. That’s a classic factor for older Black generations that have typically avoided seeking help.

“Many still think of mental illness as something to pray away, a weakness that can be overcome,” Tarry explained. “Consequently, we normalize mental illnesses, such as depression, not realizing that a problem exists.”

One reason for the upward trend among younger Black people is that some celebrities—including Hip-Hop artists—have been open about their experiences dealing with mental illness.

In March, Chance the Rapper told Complex that he has anxiety, though he said he doubted that it was more intense than the average person. The 24-year-old, whose age falls toward the middle of millennials’ range of 18-34, added that he’s now learning about Black mental health.

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Source: BAW / Nigel Roberts