After many years of neglect, mental health is finally being normalized in communities and especially among communities of color. Yet some people with mental health needs are overlooked, such as those who appear to have everything. You know those individuals who have made great accomplishments in their lives and seem to never let anything get in the way of achieving their goals. These individuals are often successful athletes, celebrities and everyday overachievers who are often assumed to be doing well mentally. After all, they seem to have everything under control.
We are always shocked when people who appear to be at the top of their game die by suicide. And someone might wonder, “Why would they end their life when they were on top?” or “How can they be depressed?”
Achievements often require a huge amount of sacrifice, which can be extremely stressful for an individual.Overachievers have a tendency not to be transparent as it may make them appear weak to others. Sometimes, when they reach out, they are met with responses such as, “You’ve got this” or “You always make it work.” Disappointing others and, most importantly, disappointing oneself are often the breaking points in their lives.
Due to the pressure of racism, Blacks people and people of color who feel the need to overachieve tend to have more stress on jobs, obtaining an education and in social situations.
For Black women, it is assumed that they are strong enough to handle many stressful roles and can endure them without complaining. The mantra of the Black woman seems to be strength, and we have worn it as a badge of honor. However, Black women and women of color must realize that caring for their mental health is also a badge of honor.
During this mental health month, be mindful of your strong friends and family members who may be struggling. Even if they seem to have it all together on the surface, an internal storm could be brewing, and your concern for them can mean the difference between life and death.
Natalie Dennis is a licensed professional counselor in Oklahoma City.
This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: Viewpoint: Mental health care should be a badge of honor