January 15, 2010

I Deserve a Peace of Mind

Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me. (Isaiah 26:3)

One of our clients has been without bipolar medication for months and has missed counseling sessions designed to help stabilize her mind and life because her monthly disability income exceeds her eligibility to receive medical and counseling assistance. Her inability to receive bipolar treatment is an impediment to her health, family, and prospective employers.

Several studies show, African-American and Latino women experience a higher rate of depressive symptoms and psychological distress compared to white women due to a convergence of societal, biological, and socioeconomical factors. Some of the risk factors are: stress due to racial discrimination; health problems (e.g., hypertension and cardiovascular disease); educational attainment, single marital status, and being a working mother.

Depression screening and prevention programs must take into account these and additional factors in order to be successful, according to Annelle Primm, M.D., M.P.H., who spoke at the APA Institute on Psychiatric Services in San Diego in October.

Primm pointed out that development of depression is affected by chronic stress and the “subsequent immuno-regulatory effects associated with living as a member of a marginalized racial and gender group.”

Social forces such as racism and sexism “impose continuous psychological stress and increase the likelihood of developing physical and mental illnesses,” she noted.

Obesity may also contribute to an increased risk for developing depression in African-American women, Primm pointed out. “There is a negative association between obesity and mental well-being,” she said.

African-American women have a greater prevalence of obesity (37.7 percent) when compared with white women (23.5 percent), she said, and overeating may begin as a strategy to cope with sexual abuse, racism, classism, and poverty in African-American women.

Primm cited the 2001 report of former Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, which brought to light the problems many minority groups have in accessing mental health services.

“On top of that,” she said, “we know that people of color who are able to access services are less likely to receive quality mental health care,” which can be partially attributed to a lack of culturally and linguistically competent mental health care clinicians.

On a broad level, policies that target poverty reduction would“ greatly benefit mental health outcomes” for African-American women.

More specifically, successful depression-prevention campaigns should incorporate “resiliency factors” employed by many African-American women, such as spirituality, which may help some to cope with depressive symptoms.

Preventive strategies should also incorporate nutrition and exercise, Primm noted.

She also recommended that depression screening be implemented to a greater extent at prenatal clinics located in public health facilities, welfare programs, and vocational-assistance programs.

In addition, it is crucial that screening programs link women who show depression symptoms to culturally competent treatment services in their community.

“What is good for African-American women in terms of preventing depression is good for all women in general and for the whole country,” Primm declared.

VEINC provides spiritual, personal, and career enrichment services to help our clients 'holistically'; however, when our clients cannot afford medical treatment, we cannot not prepare them for gainful and successful employment.

It's quite challenging for women to live in peace and harmony when faced with choosing to pay rent, feed their children, or purchase medicine. But, if women begin to focus on what they have and want, instead of their lack, this could possibly be an antidote to their financial and/or mental woes.

There's a saying, What you put your attention on, grows stronger in your life. When we place our attention on fear and lack, this will manifest in our lives and create anxiety which will immobilize us to create a life of harmony and balance. If you're a woman that's experiencing depression seek help from God and lay your concerns at His feet because He cares for you (I Peter 5:7).

Try New Life Ministries for resources and guidance to help you deal with depression. And, try God by accepting Him into your life, reading, studying, and mediating on His Word daily to gain the peace He has promised when your mind is on stayed on Him!

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