Over 7% of black men will experience severe depression during their lifetime. Between high rates of unjust incarceration and low rates of employment, black men fight mental and emotional battles every single day. It’s now more important than ever to support our friends when they are in need. Although we’ve been conditioned to not show weakness, a simple kind gesture and a little empathy can change someone’s entire day or even their entire life. Here are 5 great ideas to help you uplift a brother in despair.
Nothing brings people together better than a good meal. Whether it’s a weekend BBQ, a Sunday dinner, or a pizza delivery night, inviting your friends over to share a meal is one of the easiest ways to bond. Try keeping the pork and fried foods to a minimum and focus on the fruits and vegetables—your future self will thank you. Not only will you have time to catch up, but it also gives your friends an opportunity to vent about what may be stressing them out.
It’s okay to show love to someone going through hard times. Care packages are a good way to give those “just because” gifts without reason. Create a small care package that includes a book, a gift card to their favorite clothing store, and The G-Box to brighten up their day. Not only does this show your generosity, but it also prompts your friends to take care of themselves physically and mentally.
A great way to get your bro out of despair is by giving a sincere compliment. Is he funny? Athletic? Smart? Hardworking? People tend to be self-critical, especially when they are feeling depressed or sad. A sincere compliment at the right time can help your friend out of a slump and can help him focus on positive things in his life instead of just the problem at hand. This only works if it’s heartfelt so don’t be shy about hyping him up.
It takes a lot for a black man to express his emotions, so if he tries to open up to you, give him your undivided attention. Put away the phone, turn off the tv, make eye contact. Pay attention to what he is saying, to his body language and listen carefully. Ask follow-up questions, empathize, and be thoughtful when giving advice. Make sure he knows you completely understand how he feels.
Live It Up
Sometimes a change of scenery can shake off sadness and depression. Depending on your friend’s personality, think of ways to get them into a fresh, new environment. Invite them to your next pick-up game, go out to a nightclub, take a boxing class together, or maybe even go indoor skydiving. A change of scenery will allow him to loosen up, let his guards down, and speak his mind.
Let’s face it, we all go through something at one point or another. As a community, depression is not something we talk about enough, and thus, we’re not able to recognize it, causing us to neglect it altogether. You’ll never really know what battles your friends are fighting, they may not even tell you. It’s these simple acts of kindness that can help keep them levelheaded. A famous rapper once said, “People never get the flowers while they can still smell 'em” and that still holds true today. By celebrating and uplifting each other now, while we have the chance, we ensure that there will be no regrets in the future.