Dave Shines an Important Light on Mental Health in the Black Community
If you are not keeping up with FXXâs Dave, it follows David Burd, better known by his stage name âLil Dickyâ, on his rise to fame through rap, viral videos, and a chunk of his Bar Mitzvah money. Despite its comical and somewhat crass nature, the latest episode struck a particular nerve when it brought up the sensitive topic of mental health. The episode centered around Burdâs on and off-screen hype-man, GaTa, who revealed a past of struggles with bipolar disorder.The episode featured multiple flashbacks of GaTaâs history with the disorder, including a heart-wrenching scene where GaTa is forcefully removed from the mall after being embarrassed in the store and being taken to the police station. There he is treated with the mood stabilizer and anti-convulsant drug Depakote to calm down. As more and more flashbacks reveal, many of the people GaTa surrounds himself with find him to be âtoo muchâ, and even kick him off of a tour bus because of it. When Dave, his DJ, Elz, and his roommate/manager, Mike, become increasingly frustrated with GaTa for his inability to focus on their rehearsal for an upcoming show with Meek Mill, GaTa takes this as a sign to have his medication refilled. This, however, leads him to crash at rehearsal and fall into a deep depressive state. When Dave and Mike question him over this, GaTa reveals, in tears, that he struggles with bipolar disorder and has a long history of having people blow up at him because of it, but finds that Lil Dicky and his team have become a family to him. They make him comfortable because they are âweirdos, just like him.âGaTaâs experience is far from a rare one, and shines an important light on mental health in the black community. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, African-Americans are 10% more likely to experience psychological distress. In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death among Black youths and young adults aged 15â24.âCameron Agerston, M.Ed, a school counselor based in Maryland, says âThe remnants of slavery still hold weight in the black community. The concept of strength, currently for most Black Americans, does not acknowledge emotional intelligence, reward empathy, or recognize the necessity of mental health.â He believes that intergenerational trauma calls for an increased focus on mental health due to a history of assaults on Black personhood. Agerston, who works at a predominantly black high school, has found students with parents from all backgrounds of life choose to actively avoid the issues, refusing therapy and other mental health services their child desperately needs.In the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, only 30% of African-Americans with mental illness receive treatment. This could be due, in part, to the increasing costs of healthcare in America, and the fact that many insurance companies are still finding ways to cut corners and deny their payors mental health services. (Note: If you are denied mental healthcare, NAMI covers how you can appeal this here.)Agerston says, âThe commonality is the threat of being seen as different, as needing help, as being weak: the antithesis of the strength Black Americans value so much. The result and burden is generations of Black persons who donât acknowledge their emotions, the essence of their identity, and instead choose to project normalcy.âNorth Carolina based history teacher and African-American studies scholar, Valencia Abbott, M.A., shares a similar belief. âI think the topic is not one that is discussed and it depends on which generation is the focus of the conversation. I think older generations, my age and older, tend to hold the belief that faith and will power are more powerful, and that the mental health issue is a personal weaknessâ, says Abbott.In an article published by Central Oregon, GaTa said that he wanted to put his struggle with bipolar disorder out there to help others, hoping that they feel inspired to get help they may need, and to show men they are not weak for seeking help. For many, this is the permission that they need to be vulnerable. To accept themselves, recognize the mental illnesses they are experiencing, and accept help for themselves.***Jaden Broadnax is a history and sociology student based in North Carolina who writes about feminism, education, mental health, and comic books. You can read more of her work on Women Write About Comics, and Twitter.Â·RELATED QUESTIONIn what U.S. states are HID lights illegal and why?This is a bit of a tricky question. 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