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Bertha White, MSW, LCSW-C
The Light Is Not Illuminated Enough
Agent of Change, LLC – Mental Health Services & Resources
. https://www.agentofchangeservices.com/

The Light Is Not Illuminated Enough

The Light Is Not Illuminated Enough

The light is not illuminated enough on the complicated burdens Black youth have to bare. Signs and symptoms of depression, race based traumatic stress, anxiety, and traumatic stress associated with the pandemic, continues to rise at a rate that’s faster than other racial/ethnic group in America. Delays in seeking Mental/Behavioral Health care in Black communities is understandable and verifiable. However, unmet needs for mental health care for Black youth is a serious public health problem that can lead to negative and possibly fatal consequences. This crisis is not getting the attention nor the intervention it deserves. More support is needed from qualified, culturally competent and culturally connected clinicians.

The Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Task Force on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health, reiterated this crisis in their 2019 released report, which highlights the suicide rate among Black youth under 13 years old. This group is twice as likely to die by suicide compared to their white peers.

Family, educators and health care providers are the first line of defense for Black youth, and are likely to see the initial warning signs of distress. Be watchful for changes in thinking, emotions and/or behavior. Keep in mind children and teens may not be able to clearly describe and explain their distress. However, their emotional responses should be validated, and taken seriously, even if you don’t agree. You run the risk of further regression and despair if you devalue, reject, judge, or shame them.

Black children and youth are experiencing unique circumstances and obstacles, simultaneously. When youth are unable to identify their struggles and what troubles them the most, they can’t learn to challenge the problem, nor cope with it effectively or gain control of it.

Risk factors and warning signs that indicate distress and impaired mental stability may include:


  • Suicidal/homicidal ideation with plan intent or attempt. ( call 911)
  • Hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness and invisible
  • Changes in mood, isolation and avoidance, less communicative, says you don’t understand, may feel alone in their experience, experienced death of loved one
  • Poor adjustments to changes in learning and living environment
  • Changes in thought processing and perception, struggle to concentrate, retain and recall information leading to academic decline
  •  Feeling unprepared, unable to meet expectations, lacks self-worth, esteem, confidence and identity.
  • Loss of peer relationships,
  • Drug/alcohol use

Race Based Traumatic Stress Injury:

  • hyperarousal and reaction to dangerous events, and real or perceived experiences of racial discrimination, brutality, social and civil injustice. Inequity and inequality.
  • Experience of threats or harm, individual or collective injuries due to exposure and
  • re-exposure to race based stressed, injury, humiliation, and shaming events.
  • Stigmas, and microaggression


  • Anticipation and worry about what might happen, could continue, or could happen in the future. Racing thoughts and overthinking.
  • Fear of the pandemic, fear of transitioning to adulthood, fear of death or harm,
  • Fear to get on school bus, going to class, increased absences, fear interacting with peers
  • Self-critical, perceives criticism from others, may seek perfection, unorganized thinking derealization, procrastination, overwhelmed
  • Appears clingy, avoids public places and gathering.
  • Experience of bullying of any type, promiscuity, aggressive behavior
  • Prolonged exposure and influence of social media, bullying and shaming

Traumatic Stress Symptoms:

  • Reliving or re-experiencing traumatic event (s)
  • Intrusive memories, dreams, flashbacks, trouble sleeping
  • Avoiding reminders, memories thoughts, and feelings related to event
  • Increased negative thoughts
  • Hyperarousal, easily startled, paranoid, distress,
  • Drug/ alcohol use

If your youth or you are experiencing any of these warning signs seek immediate support. You can find therapists and counselors with the right license and experience at psychologytoday.com. You can ask your health care provider for a referral to a therapist or counselor. You can also contact the Customer Service or Behavioral Health Service number on the back of your insurance card.

Harambee Youth of Southern Maryland™ is the signature youth program at Agent of Change. This unique program combines two facets: Mental/Behavioral Health therapy groups ( age/gender specific) that provides a structured and accepting place for Black youth to focus on increasing mental health knowledge, addressing perceptions, and creating healthy mental and behavioral habits; along with Black history, culture, education, leadership skills, social awareness and community involvement for children and teens ages 8-18. In my experience and private practice, I have found better outcomes in the development and progression of Black youth who struggle with mental health instabilities when these interventions and familial involvement are combined. For more information on individual, family, group or couples therapy at Agent of Change feel free to contact us.

Agent of Change, LLC, Mental Health Services and Resources continues to seek therapist and counselors who are experienced, qualified, culturally competent and culturally connected, to join our team of change agents.

MD (301) 805-6805 | VA (703) 288-3130