Since 1976, Black History Month has been an annual observance in February to celebrate and honor the achievements of Black Americans and their significant role and impact on all facets of life and society throughout U.S. history. The national theme for 2022 focuses on the importance of “Black Health and Wellness.” The theme not only aims to acknowledge the legacy of Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also to raise awareness of the health and wellness inequities for those within the Black community.

The experience of being Black in America varies tremendously, but there are shared factors that play a role in health access, diagnoses, and treatment for people of color – especially when it comes to mental health. Chief among the barriers to mental health are stigma, health care provider bias and inequality of care, and socioeconomic disparities. However, over the last few years, a shift is underway towards breaking down mental health service barriers – and Millennials and Gen Z-ers are leading the charge. In fact, according to a study by the American Psychological Association, Gen Z is more likely to report mental health problems and seek treatment compared to older Americans.

Samsung is marking the occasion of Black History Month by amplifying young Black voices from within its Galaxy of Black Professionals (GBP) employee resource group (ERG). Here, Millennial and Gen Z GBP members share their views on reframing mental health and creating positive change by supporting well-being, healing, and resiliency:

Josh Henry, Professional B2C Sales Management
“Historically, there has always been a stigma surrounding mental health in the Black community. Growing up in the religious Deep South, I was always told that those with legitimate mental health issues should just ‘pray it away.’ This belief, along with expectations surrounding Black masculinity, were prevalent where I grew up. As a young Black man, I learned that men should be strong and stoic at all times. My generation is fearlessly countering that outdated way of thinking. And I believe the best way to improve awareness and change behaviors is to continue to challenge and ultimately remove the stigmas associated with mental health.”

Phylicia Poulson, Retail Operations, Field Sales Manager
“Mental health has been a taboo topic in the Black community since well before I was born. From an early age, you are taught to brush off or suppress feelings of anxiety, depression, or other mental health problems. Personally, I have chosen to take charge of my well-being. I’ve taken a proactive approach, which has helped me to process challenges in a healthy way. For instance, I’ve become more aware of my triggers and how to overcome them. I take mental health days to create time for self-care so that I can reboot and be the best version of myself. Essentially, your overall well-being starts with your mental well-being.”

Jonathan Mingo, Retail Operations, Field Sales Manager
“Being diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Seeking advice from medical experts has allowed me to get a better handle on organizing my thoughts and build habits conducive to success in adulthood. In the African American community, mental wellness is not necessarily prioritized. I think it’s imperative that parents look out for signs and symptoms, educate themselves about mental health, and arm themselves with an arsenal of tools and resources to help their children navigate through their unique challenges.”

Jonathan Jones, Retail Operations, Field Sales B2C
“Structural racism causes significant inequities in the diagnosis of mental health issues and access to mental health treatment. That is why it is so important to have primary care and mental health professionals that can relate to us and that look like us to get the help we need. We should work to place these professionals in our communities where they can engage with the youth, encourage those that have suffered from mental health challenges to speak up, and create accessible safe spaces, such as virtual therapy sessions, to heal. In short, mental health should matter as much as physical health.”