Following on from my previous article Shaun Flores: A man with a mission to change representation in OCD. I remain emboldened, determined and relentless in my pursuit to finding more Black people with OCD and letting them know they are not alone. At my absolute worst, I thought I was the worst possible person alive. I saw no one who looked like me.
My community has been instrumental to the work I do and whilst it may feel tiring at times, this is a responsibility I carry proudly on my back to bring more Black people to the forefront of OCD conversations. We have to change the “A Hidden Population”, to the seen population. I see you.
Looking deeper and deeper into the research, I found out more A 2015 study found that ‘mainly Black people with the most severe form of OCD especially those with uncommon symptoms may be misdiagnosed as psychotic.’
The study also found that, due to the lack of available resources and mental health programs for minority communities, this misdiagnosis is more likely to occur. Moreover, the research showed that these individuals are often prescribed antipsychotics, rather than traditional OCD medications, which can lead to an inadequate treatment plan and worsened symptoms. This is why we need more of us to speak out.
When I first released my OCD story in August OCD: How I was diagnosed, and treated | The Book of Man, I was beyond worried, and terrified and I feared the tangible consequences sharing my story could have. Then I reached a defining moment, this is not for me this is for my community.
People I knew on social media, and in my real life messaging me saying thank you, they didn't know any other Black person with OCD. It brought tears to my eyes to see people never saw anyone who looked like them. I was shocked to know I was not the only one. Now as a result of so many people coming forward, I created a black OCD recovery WhatsApp group just as a home where Black people can see they're not the only ones with OCD. Some people engage and others stay silent which is okay, we don't all have to speak.
There are the saying birds of a feather flock together and I just wanted my community to see and know that we are not alone in this. Representation and diversity are crucially crucial for most of us.
Receiving hundreds of messages from everyone from all races, genders and backgrounds has been beautiful, the message is far and wide. When I see messages from people who also look like me it's that extra push to fight for the mental health of my community. I know how being seen saves lives.
There is not enough representation of Black people speaking about OCD due to a lack of access to resources, stigma and racism surrounding mental health, and limited awareness within the Black community about OCD. Additionally, many Black people may be hesitant to seek help due to cultural norms that discourage discussing mental health issues publicly or with family members. This creates an environment in which it can be difficult for Black people to find resources and support for our mental health needs.
OCD affects everyone, it does not discriminate, yet those we see with OCD are limited and can prevent some people from speaking out, whilst I have wanted to be the change I wanted to see, I know for others it can be harder.
This is my call to action for any of you from the Black community, living or suffering from OCD. Wherever you are in the world, come and join us, we can speak, I want to hear your story. There are more of us out there and this space will change, the more of us that speak out we can change the world for the upcoming generation.