BUFFALO, N.Y. — The May 14 shooting at Tops highlighted many disparities in the Black community, in particular mental health stigmas.
In return, we see many Blacks experiencing mental health issues, but instead of getting professional help, African-Americans confide in their barbers or hairstylist.
Unfortunately, it's an ongoing problem that Daniel Love, owner of Mr. Loves Barbershop, sees constantly.
"People come in here, and we talk about all kinds of stuff. At the bottom line, we always know that it's just a conversation," Love said.
He says while preparing to give a haircut, clients tend to talk about anything, from relationships to crime; or even family problems.
"We're afraid to talk to someone else that doesn't look like us," Love said.
He added, "In our community, we just don't step out sometimes, and we just want to handle it between ourselves."
But handling our issues internally is a part of the problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it's leading to rising suicide rates among teenagers and young adults. Mental Health America reports Blacks fear judgment in our community.
"In the Black community, it's what's said in the home, stay in the home. You don't tell anyone about your business," Digby said.
Mental health counselor Jeronica Digby says our long history of suffering in the past is one reason, and as the stigma continues today, we are afraid of looking weak.
"People don't come to me when there are rainbows and lollipops. People come to me when it's crumbling. If I'm not there, what are they going to do when they're feeling stressed and overwhelmed? If I'm not there, what if they're ready to walk out," Digby said.
Digby is holding a mental health event to build relationships in the Black community. She's also addressing the symptoms and the bigger picture around mental health in the black community.
This event will be virtual and held on Feb. 25. Click here to register.