Philadelphia Conference Discusses Barriers, Stigma Around Mental Health in Black Community
The two-day Breaking the Silence conference in Philadelphia aimed to address an "often hidden and still taboo topic within the African-American community: mental illness and the dangers of not treating it," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. About 2,000 participants attended the conference, which ended Saturday and featured panel discussions on behavioral health moderated by prominent members of academia, the media and entertainment. The first such conference was held in 1997.
State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D), who helped raise funds to hold the conference, said, "There is not a community not impacted by the stigma, but it's much more of an acute issue and problem within the African-American community." He added, "Many in the community operate under the lack of insurance to get care, and for those who have insurance there are barriers to getting care. Those walls prevent a lot of people from getting help."
Hughes also discussed the cost of not treating mental illness, saying, "If you don't confront these issues at an early stage, then they can grow to become very significant down the line. The cost of not treating this lack of wellness is billions of dollars (more) in treatment and care than if it was treated in a much more open environment" (Parmley, Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/9).