The theme for this year’s Black History Month is “Black Health and Wellness”. While health and wellness includes physical, mental, and spiritual health, the focus of this blog is on mental health, which has long been a taboo topic in the black community, even more so than society as a whole. As a result, only one in three Blacks with mental health problems receive appropriate treatment. Add to that the fact that black adults They are 20% more likely To report more serious psychological distress than white adults, a disturbing scenario reveals itself.
There are many potential reasons why the black community may suffer from a disproportionate number of mental health concerns, including the racial inequality seen in nearly all sectors of society, including health care. In addition, the long history of dehumanization, oppression, and violence against blacks has evolved into modern structural and institutional racism that affects mental health in countless ways. Taken together, this often manifests as distrust of government and large institutions, including the medical system. Also, social and economic disparities common in the black community often limit access to health insurance and other vital health-related resources.
While society has become more aware of these issues, and increasingly willing to talk about them in a meaningful and productive manner, we are still far short of the ultimate goal of justice for every individual in all segments of society.
Normalizing mental health discussions, particularly in the black community, is just a small part of the complex topic of holistic health. Rather than focusing on the “mental health struggles” of the black community, a more positive trend in this situation that health coaches and exercise professionals may want to embrace involves celebrating the black joy, which many experts and activists consider to be the focus of black culture.
As a health coach or exercise professional, you can facilitate this joy of celebrating black culture not only through the meaningful acceptance of all customers and participants, regardless of their skin colour, but also through marketing and social media content that shows black people the joy and the rewards of physical activity. . The goal is to create a facility and a community of members who not only feel welcome and empowered, but also respected and valued, regardless of their background.
Of course, it’s not appropriate for health coaches and exercise professionals to diagnose mental health issues. However, the positive effects of physical activity on mental health are well documented, so it is certainly appropriate for you to emphasize these benefits when working with clients, especially black clients. When discussing changing programming and behavior with clients, for example, consider highlighting the fact that physical activity has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Encourage your clients to incorporate one or more of the following mindfulness techniques into their daily routine:
- conscious movement: Most people think of yoga, Tai Chi Or qigong when they think about the waking movement – these are all great options – but walking, running, cycling and rowing can also be careful if the distractions, both internal and external, are removed, and emphasis is placed on the frequency of movement, breathing pattern and the way the body feels as it moves across space.
- Meditation: There are many types of meditation practice, but if someone is new to meditation or just wants a way to relax during stressful times, keep it simple. Find or create a distraction-free zone and sit or lie down—whatever is most comfortable—for 10 or 15 minutes of quiet or prayer time. Try to ignore thoughts as they arise and focus instead on your breathing pattern and other physical cues. Another type of meditation involves contracting and relaxing the muscles, starting with the toes and moving through each muscle group until you reach the muscles in your face and head. Finally, there are countless phone apps and YouTube videos with guided meditation, which can be a great place to start.
- Breathing exercises: breathing exercises It is sometimes done along with meditation, but it can also be done on its own. As few as 10 conscious breaths can relax the mind and body and allow a person to refocus. There are a number of techniques to explore, including diaphragmatic breathing and lip breathing, but here’s a simple way to start: Place one hand on the stomach and the other on the chest. Breathe slowly and be aware of how the air is moving in and out of the body, inflating and deflation with each breath.
Normalizing this kind of discussion, in a way that does not discriminate against any individual or group, could be a powerful and important step toward drawing an explicit link between physical activity and mental health, leading to improved overall well-being.