Dear West Indian & African parents

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

Many immigrant parents have a very hard time processing that their child has a mental illness or poor mental health. “You have food, shelter and everything else I provided for you, why are you depressed? What is there to be depressed about?”

As someone who is half Jamaican and half Vincentian and lives with depression, anxiety and OCD, I know all too well what it’s like to have West Indian parents when it comes to your mental health.

In regards to moving to a foreign country (sometimes with zero support), you killed it! You hustled and sacrificed and here we are, getting an education, having opportunities, living the life! But while you were working so hard to allow for us to have that life, you didn’t have the time to address your own mental health because you were striving to not only provide but to help your children succeed.

“You have food, shelter & water, why are you depressed?”

But guess what? Now your children do! We have the time, resources and money to address what’s impacting us emotionally and psychologically. And we have you to thank you for that!

Photo by August de Richelieu on

So yes, unintentionally, you created the luxury for us to deal with our mental health. And what a life! A life where you can evaluate why you might not be happy, address clinical depression or other mental illnesses, get help to understand why anxiety is hindering your day to day life, find the right medications & therapy that’s going to help you cope, find balance and succeed! The list goes on & on! What’s the point of all these freedoms you afforded us if we aren’t happy, healthy and in our best mental health to enjoy it?

Mental health & mental illness are not just for white people. We all have mental health & are susceptible to developing mental illness especially considering what is happening in the world. You would be remiss to say we’re not impacted mentally and emotionally right now from the impact of both the race revolution and covid-19. Now is the time to speak freely and confide with one another when it comes to our mental health. We need you by our sides.

“Mental illness is not just for white people.”

I am learning so much right now by reading, reflecting, attending webinars, examining my own experiences and having discussions with my peers. I hope my notion that our parents’ sacrifice allows us to enjoy this luxury of addressing our mental health resonates and hopefully I will continue to have more “Ah-Ha!” moments to share in the months to come.

Enjoyed all this? Read & share my blog post: What does it mean to be black and have a mental illness?

Read about my book here. Coming this summer!

Read “Why I wrote A Hidden Life” here.

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Content on this website may be triggering, please call 911 or go to the nearest hospital if you feel you are in a mental health crisis.

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