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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Office of Minority Health

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Mental and Behavioral Health - African Americans

  • In 2019, suicide was the second leading cause of death for blacks or African Americans, ages 15 to 24.1
  • The death rate from suicide for black or African American men was four times greater than for African American women, in 2018.
  • The overall suicide rate for black or African Americans was 60 percent lower than that of the non-Hispanic white population, in 2018.
  • Black females, grades 9-12, were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide in 2019, as compared to non-Hispanic white females of the same age.
  • Poverty level affects mental health status. Black or African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are twice as likely to report serious psychological distress.
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 - 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233 percentage, as compared to 120 percent of non-Hispanic whites.2

MENTAL HEALTH STATUS

Serious psychological distress in the past year among adults 18 years of age and over, percentage, 2019
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
11.9
12.7
0.9

Source: SAMHSA, 2020. Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Detailed Tables. Table 10.43B
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2019-nsduh-detailed-tables [PDF | 10.22MB]


Serious psychological distress in the past 30 days among adults 18 years of age and over, percentage of poverty level, 2015-2016*
 
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Below 100%
7.6
12.1
0.6
100% - less than 200%
3.9
7.6
0.5
200% - less than 400%
2.8
3.1
0.9

Source: CDC, 2018. Health United States, 2019. Table 46.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/hus17.pdf [PDF | 10.22MB]


Percentage of population with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or that everything is an effort, all or most of the time, among persons 18 years of age and over, 2018
 
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Sadness
4.2
2.6
1.6
Hopelessness
1.8
2.2
0.8
Worthlessness
1.8
2.3
0.7
Everything is an effort
11.0
6.6
1.7

Source: CDC 2021. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-7.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm


Percentage of population with serious psychological distress among persons 18 years of age and over, 2018
 
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men
2.5
2.8
0.9
Women
4.7
4.8
1.0
Total
3.7
3.8
1.0

Source: CDC 2021. Summary Health Statistics: National Health Interview Survey: 2018. Table A-8.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis/shs/tables.htm

DEATH RATES

Age-adjusted death rates for suicide, by sex, race and Hispanic origin, 2018
 
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black /Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Male
12.2
28.6
0.4
Female
2.9
8.0
0.4
Total
7.3
18.1
0.4

Source: CDC 2021. National Vital Statistics Report, Vol. 69, No. 13. Table 10.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr69/nvsr69-13-508.pdf [PDF | 2MB]


Death rates for suicide, age, race and Hispanic origin, 2018: Men
 
Non-Hispanic Black Men
Non-Hispanic White Men
Non-Hispanic Black Men / Non-Hispanic White Men Ratio
15-24 years
17.3
27.3
0.6
25-44 years
19.5
35.8
0.5
45-64 years
11.6
39.5
0.3
65 years and over
8.9
38.2
0.2
All ages
12.2
28.6
0.4

Source: CDC, 2021. Health United States, 2019. Table 9.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/2019/009-508.pdf [PDF | 10.22MB]


Death rates for suicide, age, race and Hispanic origin, 2018: Women
 
Non-Hispanic Black Women
Non-Hispanic White Women
Non-Hispanic Black Women / Non-Hispanic White Women Ratio
15-24 years
4.2
6.7
0.6
25-44 years
4.5
10.4
0.4
45-64 years
3.1
13.0
0.2
65 years and over
1.3
6.3
0.4
All ages
2.9
8.0
0.4

Source: CDC, 2021. Health United States, 2019. Table 9.
https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hus/2019/009-508.pdf [PDF | 10.22MB]

ADOLESCENTS

Death rates for suicide: ages 15 - 19, 2019
 
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Male
11.6
18.3
0.6
Female
3.4
5.7
0.6
Total
7.6
12.2
0.6

Source: CDC, 2021. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web Based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [Accessed 04/21/2021]
https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html


Suicidal ideation among students in grades 9–12, 2019 Percentage of students who seriously considered suicide
 
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men
10.7
13.8
0.8
Women
23.7
24.3
1.0
Total
16.9
19.1
0.9

Source: CDC 2021. High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. [Accessed 04/21/2021] https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline


Suicidal ideation among students in grades 9–12, 2019 Percentage of students who attempted suicide
 
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
Men
8.5
6.4
1.3
Women
15.2
9.4
1.6
Total
11.8
7.9
1.5

Source: CDC 2021. High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. [Accessed 04/21/2021]
https://nccd.cdc.gov/youthonline.

ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE

Percentage of adults age 18 and over who received mental health services in the past year, 2019
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
9.8
19.8
0.5

SAMHSA, 2020. Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Detailed Tables. Table 8.17B
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2019-nsduh-detailed-tables


Percentage of adults age 18 and over who received prescription medications for mental health services, 2019
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
6.5
16.6
0.4

SAMHSA, 2020. Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Detailed Tables. Table 8.21B
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2019-nsduh-detailed-tables


Percentage of adults age 18 and over with past year major depressive episode who received treatment for the depression, 2019
Non-Hispanic Black
Non-Hispanic White
Non-Hispanic Black / Non-Hispanic White Ratio
59.6
70.2
0.8

SAMHSA, 2020. Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Detailed Tables. Table 8.39B
https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2019-nsduh-detailed-tables


1 CDC. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). [Accessed 04/21/2021]. http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html

2 U.S. Surgeon General, 2001. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK44251

Last Modified: 5/18/2021 6:38:00 PM