Addiction & Mental Health Resources To Support Black People

We explore some of the greatest mental health challenges facing Black people and offer dozens of free resources to support recovery.

Black people in the United States have had a tumultuous history, and in recent years this has come to the forefront of public consciousness. Due to the racially charged climate in recent years, the recent and ongoing police brutality, and police shootings of Black people in America, we have seen increasing levels of anxiety and stress among Black people all across the country. Living in a constant state of elevated stress and tension can produce negative effects on someone’s mental health. When combined with a substance use disorder, this can lead to very negative outcomes. In this article, we will examine the state of mental health and substance abuse among Black people today. We will also provide helpful resources for recovery from both of these conditions.

African American Dual Diagnosis Recovery Support

ON THIS PAGE:

Substance Abuse Among Black Americans

While Black Americans experience substance abuse at slightly lower rates than their Caucasian peers overall, Black adolescents exhibit slightly higher rates of substance abuse than their white counterparts.


Co-Occurring Conditions Among Black Americans

Co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders occur at lower rates for Black people than for many other ethnicities. There are some exceptions, however, and these include PTSD, agoraphobia, and dysthymia, or a persistent depressive disorder.


Helpful Resources for Black People

We have gathered many helpful resources that are specific to Black people and can provide help and support if someone is struggling with mental health or substance abuse. Also check out our BIPOC section, as well as our lists of accredited dual diagnosis treatment centers and inpatient rehabs by state. for other great resources.


Mental Health Challenges Facing Black Americans

Mental health issues are common among Black Americans, especially in today’s political climate. There is a tendency, however, for Black people not to seek professional help as often as their white peers. Amongst the Black community, there is a distrust of the American medical establishment. Betrayals of Black people by medical professionals under the guise of “free” treatment has caused this distrust. Though many reasons Black Americans do not seek treatment are out of their control, we strive to provide alternative resources in this article.
 
Among Black communities in America, mental health issues are often stigmatized or overlooked. One study from 2010 examined the perception of mental illness within Black communities. Due to current racial discrimination, and historical oppression and inhumane treatment, there is a tendency to minimize mental illness. Black Americans tend to hide mental illness from others and deal with in isolation. This attitude can lead to worsening mental health symptoms and a failure to recognize mental health crises. When this happens, professional treatment is pushed aside. This may be why the severity of mental illness seems to be greater in Black Americans than in their white counterparts.
 
That being said, there is a heavy emphasis on social support and religious counsel within the Black community in America. This may overlap into the realm of mental healthcare somewhat. Black Americans have the highest church attendance out of any racial group in America. Church attendance is often connected to mental health issues, particularly among Black Americans. In times of distress, Black people tend to increase their participation in church. There are other non-organizational religious practices that increase during times of mental distress. Prayer, meditation, and reading religious literature are often comforting in times of distress. Whatever the reason, religious practices and community can be beneficial for someone struggling with mental illness.
 
Fear is another barrier between Black individuals and professional mental health treatment. One study found that the rates of fear were roughly 2.5 times greater among Black people than their white counterparts. While the stigma that accompanies mental illness remains present, younger generations are more accepting of professional help. The Affordable Care Act has caused the gap between Black and white Americans seeking healthcare to shrink.
Greater access to health insurance, changing cultural attitudes toward mental health and wellness, and open discussions about mental illness has created a change in the mental health landscape of Black people in America.

Substance Use Among Black Americans

Black Americans have lower rates of substance abuse than white Americans. The duration of that substance abuse, however, seems to persist longer among Black people. Substance abuse is more common among Black people living in major metropolitan areas. While they vary, the rates of substance abuse in urban areas is almost twice as high as in rural areas.

African Americans Substance Abuse
Information Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse – Diagnosis and Treatment of Drug Abuse in Family Practice
There are at least two distinct population groups often lumped together as “Black” or “African American.” These two ethnic groups are African Americans and Black Caribbeans. African Americans are of direct, although distant, African descent. They are American-born, and are concentrated in the Southeast of the country. Black Caribbeans are first or second generation immigrants. They currently have family in their home country, and are in the Northern states. While the distinction may seem trivial, there are differences between their rates of substance abuse. Black Carribeans exhibit 1.9% less substance abuse and 0.8% less substance dependence than African Americans.
 
Black people exhibit lower rates of lifetime substance abuse. Rates of drug and alcohol use among Black adolescents, however, are higher than their Caucasian peers. This may be due to a greater likelihood to live in urban areas where drugs are often more available. Reduced access to mental health care and treatment services may also play a role. And it’s no sectret that racial stresses and pressures increase anxiety. There is no single cause for the increased rates of substance abuse among Black adolescents. That being said, professional drug and alcohol treatment centers provide a clear and effective route to recovery.

Co-Occurring Disorders Among Black Americans

The rates of co-occurring substance abuse and mental illness among Black people are lower than other ethnic groups. The exceptions are PTSD, dysthymia, and agoraphobia. These disorders are more often dignosed in Black populations than in other racial groups.

African Americans Co-Occurring Conditions
Information Source: Comprehensive Psychiatry – Prevalence, Patterns, and Correlates of Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Disorders in the US
There is a strong connection between anxiety disorders (particularly PTSD) and substance use disorders. People with PTSD are over 2x as likely to suffer from a substance use disorder at some point during their lifetime. Additionally, people with anxiety disorders are more likely to experience substance use disorders. For people with PTSD, there is an almost 3.5x higher chance of dependence. People with agoraphobia are at a 2.5x higher risk of developing substance dependence.
 
Co-occurrence of mental illness and substance use disorders may complicate the treatment process. Without comprehensive, dual diagnosis care for both conditions at the same time, someone’s chances of recovery are greatly reduced. According to SAMHSA, with regard to treating co-occurring PTSD and substance use disorder:

…integrated, concurrent treatment that addresses both conditions simultaneously has generated strong empirical support, appears to be preferable to clients, and is increasingly considered the current standard of care, particularly when combining psychosocial and pharmacologic approaches.

-SAMHSA T.I.P. 42, 2020 Edition, Page 87

Mental Health Resources For Black Americans

There are many mental health resources that are freely available online today that are by Black people, for Black people. Recognizing the signs of mental health challenges is only the first step, reaching out and asking for help is the next. Being able to do so safely and comfortably can go a long way toward allowing someone to speak up and say that one magic word: Help.

Live Another Day has assembled some great BIPOC support resources, including a guide written specifically to support Black College Students.

  • Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective (BEAM): An organization that promotes and advocates for mental health awareness and accessibility in the Black community, they provide a helpful resources page and information on mobile crisis units in every state they are available.
  • Black Mental Health Alliance: A national non-profit that connects people of color with therapists of color.
  • Sista Afya: A Black Women’s mental health awareness and recovery non-profit organization, their website provides information, resources, and links to care so that Black Women may better protect and improve their mental health.
  • Therapy For Black Girls: A mental health advocacy and awareness organization for Black Women, they also provide a directory of Black therapists in cities all over the country.
  • Black Women’s Health Imperative: An advocacy and support organization, they provide information and resources to help Black women improve and maintain positive mental health practices.
  • Black Girls Smile: A non-profit organization that works to improve mental health and wellness among young black women and girls.
  • Therapy For Black Men: A hub for Black men to get connected with therapists and mental health professionals that can provide compassionate, culturally competent care tailored to the unique challenges and struggles of Black men in America today.
  • Black Men Heal: A mental health support and advocacy site that provides several helpful community programs to help Black men improve and maintain positive mental health practices.
  • Brother, You’re On My Mind: A partnership between the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, this is a fact sheet and resource guide to help Black men identify mental health issues and seek help.
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 A 24/7 crisis hotline for anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide and other mental health crises.
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741-741 anytime, 24/7 to chat with a crisis counselor. They also have articles written by Black people, for Black people who are struggling with mental health issues.
  • Aakoma Project: A mental health advocacy organization, the Aakoma Project works to educate people about mental health issues so that they can better identify them when they arise and seek appropriate help.
  • QTOC – LGBTQ Psychotherapists of Color: A volunteer organization that provides a database and directory of therapists who specialize in therapy for minority populations.
  • National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network: A mental health support organization, their website provides a searchable directory of therapists who are dedicated to helping queer and trans people of color.
  • The Trevor Project: A non-profit that aims to support young LGBTQ people, they have a helpful guide on supporting the mental health of young Black LGBTQ people.
  • Open Path: A nationwide non-profit organization, Open Path aims to connect people with low-cost, high-quality mental healthcare services either in-person or virtually.
  • Black Mental Wellness: A mental health awareness and advocacy organization, their site provides a wealth of information and resource for Black people who may be struggling with mental health issues.
  • Melanin & Mental Health: A directory of mental health professionals and resources for Black people that can provide listings of culturally competent mental health professionals that are sensitive to the issues facing People of Color.
  • Eustress: A mental health organization that works to increase awareness and improve access to services in underserved communities.
  • The Steve Fund: An organization that aims to improve mental health and wellness among Black American students and adolescents.
  • NAMD Advocates: An advocacy organization that works to increase representation and visibility for Black and Brown people with disabilities.
  • Black Mental Matters: A podcast about mental health issues among Black people, by Black people in the mental health profession.
  • Black Disability Collective: A Facebook Group that is for people who identify as Black and disabled and provides an open forum for discussion and connection.
  • Autistic People of Color Fund: A support and advocacy organization that supports Black and Brown people with autism, they have worked to provide microloans and grants to support marginalized autistic people.
  • Mental Health America – Black History Month: A national non-profit organization, they have a page dedicated to mental health and Black people in America with dozens of helpful and educational resources.

Substance Abuse Resources

A few resources to help someone begin the journey of recovery include:

  • SAMHSA Treatment Locator: A treatment locator tool that can help anyone find substance abuse, mental health, or co-occurring disorder treatment centers all over the country.
  • FindTreatment.gov: A government-run website that holds a directory of thousands of state-licensed drug and alcohol treatment centers all over the country.
  • SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-4357 A national helpline for anyone struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues.
  • National Harm Reduction Coalition: An organization that advocates safe use habits among active drug users. Even if someone is not ready to quit using, they can still take steps to reduce the risks of drug use.
Call Our Free 24/7 Helpline
Get Help Now