The Stigma of Mental Illness Often Prevents Many from Seeking Help But This Young Man Is Bravely Bucking That Trend

The Stigma of Mental Illness Often Prevents Many from Seeking Help But This Young Man Is Bravely Bucking That Trend


Hasani Malone

In 2009, Garren Fain moved from Columbia, S.C., where a new job opportunity awaited his mom in Atlanta, Ga. He was in seventh grade when his familiarity with the world was abruptly shifted.

“I moved away from my friends and family, [with] no father figure, and Atlanta is a much bigger city than Columbia, so that’s a lot for a seventh-grader to take in.” Fain said.

Garren was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder in 2017, but he noticed a change in his behavior after that move — a feeling of sadness and not belonging lingered throughout his transition to the bigger city and far after.

“I’ve had three failed suicide attempts. I think it was a combination of not thinking that my situation would ever get better and anxiety,” Fain said. “I would get this overwhelming feeling of a gigantic rock just resting on my chest, and it felt like it would get heavier every time I tried to breath.

“This is a feeling I still struggle with, but on those days, I had no sense of hope. I didn’t think it would go away, so I tried to end my life.”

Now at 20 years old, Garren spends most of his time at home reading or at Passion City Church, where he was able to build a relationship with God and a reason to live.

“I started attending Passion City Church and I started
The halls of Passion City Church, where Fain found solace. (Photo: Instagram)

having conversations that I never thought I would have,” Fain said. “Those conversations have opened up my mind to the option of going to a counselor.”

But Fain said he often still struggles with getting his family to understand or take his health seriously. Coming from a Black, single-parent household, he said he often heard phrases like “Get over it” or “You’re too sensitive” when discussing his mental health, whereas, around his white peers, he found a more willing and sympathetic ear. Because of this, he said he still finds it difficult to speak about his mental health without guilt or shame, though he is open to seeking counseling.

According to the 2014 U.S. Census , 13.2 percent of the population identifies as Black or African-American and, of those, 16 percent were diagnosed with a mental illness. That’s over 6.8 million people. African-Americans are 10 percent more likely to report having a serious psychological distress than non-Hispanic whites but are 20 percent less likely to report serious psychological distress than white adults. And while Black teenagers are less likely to die from suicide than white teenagers, they are more likely to attempt it at 8.3 percent. Despite these numbers, there seems to be a disparity in the number of Black people who receive care or treatment for their mental health struggles. According to the American Psychological Association, Black adults, specifically those with higher levels of education, are significantly less likely to seek treatment for their mental health concerns. Black people are disproportionately struggling with mental illness but are not seeking out the help they need.