Stress in red pencil

Mental Health Knows No Group Identity, but Our Stressors are Not All The Same

Mental health issues can strike anyone, anywhere. We wouldn’t see the numbers of people dealing with depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc. if mental health issues were only a result of group identity. They aren’t. People you know are included in those numbers, whether they’ve told you or not.

While that fact should remind us that mental health is an “everyone” problem and not a problem just for other people, we should also remember that not everyone comes to this on equal footing. This article about the top things causing stress in our lives these days gives us that reminder:

Certain groups of people cited discrimination as more of a stressor than others; 45% of LGBTQIA+, 43% of Black people, 40% of Latino people said it causes them strife.

“The data in the study underscores the overwhelming evidence supporting the need for tailored wellness interventions for targeted demographics (looking at the race/gender differences),” Taisha Caldwell-Harvey, a licensed psychologist and the founder and CEO of The Black Girl Doctor, told HuffPost via email.

“A one-size-fits-all approach to mental health care and wellness is ineffective because our experiences of stress and its triggers vary significantly based on our individual identities,” Caldwell-Harvey continued.

This is the reality that we have created. I’m a straight, middle-aged, white man. I struggle with my mental health at times. I feel stressed about my job, the world, etc. I don’t, however, also have to deal with a lot of discrimination on top of that. No one is trying to outlaw my marriage or treat me poorly because of my skin. That doesn’t mean that my mental health struggles aren’t as valid, it simply means that what works for me to help deal with the overwhelming stress that simply living has become, might now be as effective for someone who is dealing with discrimination, living in poverty, etc. Those things matter too. They have an impact on mental health in the same way someone with family in Ukraine or Gaza would have different levels of stress right now.

In short, we can’t keep telling people to eat better and get exercise when the world is actively hurting them and the people they care about. We need to find multiple options for different individuals in different situations.

And, we need to work toward being a world that prioritizes not actively hurting each other, but I fear too many people aren’t capable of that.

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