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Black Americans report more ‘poor mental health days’ due to deadly racial incidents

Event happening Friday to help Black men cope

ORLANDO, Fla. – According to recent studies, the mental health of Black Americans is under strain. It’s a combination of a lot of things including the pandemic, racial disparity and police shootings.

A recent study by an assistant professor at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City found that Black Americans reported an increase in “poor mental health days” after more than one deadly racial incident was reported in the news.

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After protests during the past year when George Floyd was killed, the guilty verdict this week for Derek Chauvin brought relief for many people, but for Orlando father Kenneth Hughes, the cycle of Black people killed by police nationwide is still disheartening.

“You can only watch law enforcement murder Black people for so long until it just becomes numb,” Hughes said. “I think there’s a huge cloud that hangs over Black Americans when it comes to law enforcement.”

He said he wants to make sure his young son grows up safely. He said he’s been seeking therapy lately, but the reason goes way beyond the police shootings.

“Black people in America have trauma that America has caused and we have to unpack it and we have to work through it,” Hughes said.

And he’s not alone. Oviedo-based mental health therapist Pernell Bush of K.E.Y. Counseling Solutions said that during the past year he’s seen about 80% more Black men and Black boys seek therapy at his office. He said many are upset and anxious since the recent police shootings.

“Yesterday I had a man who came in for the first time and he was just in tears,” Bush said. “I’ve seen individuals come into my office with concerns of being discouraged, being anxious, feeling insignificant.”

He has advice for people in need of help who may not know where to turn.

“It’s OK to disconnect. It’s OK to allow yourself to process. It’s OK to get into a support circle that you feel safe with,” Bush said.

He’s hosting a free mental health forum and movie Friday starting at 6 p.m. in Orlando aimed at helping Black men cope. You can register for the event with limited seating here.

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