7am: The student wakes to their alarm clock blaring in their ear. They trudge to the bathroom to brush their teeth and to take a shower, but only if time permits. They throw together an outfit that doesn’t seem too try hard, but also embodies the “I don’t care how I look right now, it’s the morning look” that some college students just seem to adopt. The student endures four back to back, 50 minute (or maybe even an hour and fifteen minute) classes, trying to keep their sandbag like eyelids from heading south.
5pm: They work a four hour shift at their campus job, go back to their room and are greeted warmly by their six page essay and unfinished finite homework scattered across their desk.
8pm: Their phone is buzzing non-stop. It’s a Monday night, and friends want them to go out. You politely decline. After all it’s a Monday night. Don’t they have something to do?
1am: Page four of six on that essay, and they’re stuck on question five for finite. Oh, and did I mention they have an Anatomy exam on Thursday? Their bed is calling their name, but so is their homework. “One more hour” they tell themselves. One more.
3am: Essay? Done. Finite…Finite?….Zzzzzzzzz..
This scene setter in the general since is an accurate depiction of a typical college student’s day. Or even week.
When the term “college student” is mentioned, it is associated with white students more so than black ones. Along with that, so is the idea of being overwhelmed or stressed. While it’s illogical to say that black students are immune to stress, it is sometimes forgotten that we can feel the weight of the world on our shoulders.
It is as if black college students are incapably of leading high-strung stressful lives. It is an issue that is ongoing; an issue that needs to be addressed.
But before we can hone in on black students and stress, it must be viewed in relation to the black community as a whole.
Typically speaking when stressed or drowning in a pool of their problems, individuals within the black community do not like seeking help. Whether its family, friends or professional help, their mindset essentially is “It’s my problem, my business; therefore I’ll deal with it on my own.”
While this might just be character trait of stubbornness, underlying social effects enable the black community from seeking counseling or guidance.
In particular seeking help is considered a sign of weakness. There is this misconstrued idea that black people are these strong figures that can tackle anything that thrown at them; the idea of the “Strong black man” or “Strong black woman”. This do all, conquer all attitude is an unfair assumption to project onto other black individuals. Yes, it can be empowering; some might even wear the title like a fitted glove. But for others it’s mentally crippling to know as black people, who seek help, are seen as ill-equipped to handle their own issues. When in actuality seeking help is one of the bravest steps to take.
Another issue at hand is being too prideful to accept the help. In the black community there is no shortage of “I climbed this mountain, and crawled through these trenches to get to where I am today” Insinuating they willingly took the journey by themselves, just to prove that they could do it alone. But when resources are available to make your journey less of a hardship and more of a life lesson, do not let your struggles define who you are. Use them to help find who you are.
Nonetheless, for those who do seek out help formally of informally on their heels, without fail, is the negative stigma derived from within the black community. There are the hushed whispers and the disapproving glances toward “so and so” because they sought out help.
The black community as a whole has associated seeking help with negative connotations. While it might not be traditional to put, as your grandma might say, “your business” out there, trends in the black community today point towards a new tradition.
This is not all to say that all black people don’t know how to ask for help. There are a rare few that do. And that’s the kicker. A rare few. Why must the black community suffer in silence when the resources are so readily available?
Stress, depression, or mental illness knows no boundaries; knows no race. Seek the support and help when you need it. Seek a peace of mind.