By D. Adams, J. Amani, A. Bausley, H. Muqtasid, V. Shaw, C. Snuggs, J. Dudley, ATP
On September 24, 2003 in the auditorium of the Inglewood Public Library, CABWHP posed the question, Is Our Sweetness Our Weakness? Two outstanding advocates for women?s health, Julie Fuller, MD and Patrice Harris, MD were on hand to help the audience of mostly African-American women answer this thoughtprovoking question.
At the town hall meeting, the relationship between Black women?s mental, emotional and physical health, with a special emphasis on diabetes and cardiovascular disease, was explored. Another point of discussion was how Black women feel as though we must carry the burden of our race on our backs alone.
Dr. Julie Fuller discussed her views on this subject and how "depression can literally break your heart". Dr. Fuller stated that whether we admit it or not, our sweetness is our weakness, but it is also leading to our demise. Dr. Fuller supported this statement with some alarming facts. For example, 40% of Black women in the U.S. die from some form of heart disease. In addition, 67 of every 100 Black women are overweight, and of those, 38 are obese. Studies show 60% of Black women suffer from some form of depression or mental illness and only 7% are getting treatment for these illnesses. Since the body functions in conjunction with the mind, this statistic is most alarming. Without a healthy mind, it is much harder for one to have a healthy body. Dr. Fuller recommended actions we can take to help ourselves, which include: teaching women how to modify our damaging behaviors and incorporate healthy ones; training health professionals how to recognize mental illness among people of color; and incorporating a holistic approach to wellness.