From Publishers Weekly
In this brief but powerful book, award-winning reporter Head draws a clear picture of several complex social, racial and psychological problems and raises important questions about mental health care in general and for black men specifically. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization, depressions impact on society is enormous. Yet, for many members of the African-American community the subject remains taboo¾especially for black men, who may suffer silently and die tragically because of it. Their despair has deep roots in our history, Head argues: "Racism not only brings on depression in black men, it exacerbates the effects of the illness." A journalist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and USA Today and a fellow at the Carter Center Mental Health Program, Head explains that "racism is psychological warfare in the most literal sense of the term" and that, when racisms humiliation and hopelessness is combined with a loss, depression often results. Woven throughout the book is an eloquent memoir of Heads own chronic depression which provides insight into the illness for readers who may not be familiar with its effects. Heads struggle has taught him that there are no easy answers to depression. But he maintains that progress can be made if African Americans acknowledge the problem, talk about it and remember that depression is a medical illness, just like diabetes and heart disease. And, says Head, it is time for the mental health care system to do the research and outreach that the black community needs to confront this problem. Not exactly a self-help book, Heads volume is a wake-up call to African Americans, health care professionals and anyone concerned about the far-reaching consequences of depression.
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Head, a veteran journalist and a success by any objective standard, shares his 25-year struggle with depression within the context of the kinds of social and cultural forces that can cause depression in black men and, at the same time, discourage acknowledgement or treatment of that depression. The broader social stigma of depression, combined with the culture among black men to view depression as weakness, has compelled many to suffer in silence. Head traces back to slavery the pressures faced by black men, their responses to those pressures, and the lack of interest or concern the psychiatric profession has until recently shown regarding race and depression. Head intersperses his harrowing personal struggle with analysis of the impact of racism on black men and compels them to ignore their depression until they are driven to the extremes and receive treatment in psychiatric wards, homeless shelters, or prison. Head challenges the black church, black families, and the broader society to recognize the particular pressures faced by black men and to lift the antihelp social stigma. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved