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Black churches provide refuge and support for youth mental health issues

MGlobal health issues are becoming increasingly common among African American teens and young adults. Alarming new federal data collected by the Pew Charities reveals that the suicide rate among Black youth ages 10 to 19 has increased by 54% since 2018, surpassing that of their white peers for the first time in 2022.

The data shows the need for improved mental health care within Black communities, where systemic inequities and stigma around mental health persist. Despite the overall youth suicide rate trending downward, the increase among Black adolescents, who have seen a 144% increase in suicide rates between 2007 and 2020, underscores the urgent need for community-based solutions.

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As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, the “Black Church in Detroitseries explores the role of the church in providing safe spaces and promoting spiritual well-being. Host Stefan Henderson conversations with Minister Mikiah Keener of Triumph Church and Ashley Lewis, a student at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary and member of Fellowship Chapel. They discuss the factors contributing to the rise in mental health issues among Black youth, including the impact of social media and artificial intelligence.

Lewis also shares a personal account of her teenage son’s struggles with bullying and emphasizes the importance of the church in cultivating a positive identity for Black children. She also addresses the deep-seated reluctance within the Black community to seek mental health care, which is rooted in cultural distrust and stigma.

Additionally, Keener highlights the church’s role in intervening during mental health crises by providing a listening ear and necessary resources, and the opportunity for churches to create religious apps and social media platforms that can cultivate youth growth .

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