Mental health challenges have become more prevalent among African American teens and young adults. Alarming new federal data gathered by the Pew Charitable Trusts reveals that the suicide rate among Black youth ages 10 to 19 increased 54% since 2018, surpassing that of their White peers for the first time in 2022.  

The data shows the need for improved mental health care within Black communities, where systemic inequities and stigma around mental health persist. Despite the overall youth suicide rate trending downwards, the increase among Black adolescents, who have seen a 144% rise in suicide rates from 2007 to 2020, underscores the urgent need for community-based solutions.  


As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, the “Black Church in Detroit” series explores the church’s role in providing safe spaces and promoting mental wellness. Host Stephen Henderson talks with Minister Mikiah Keener of Triumph Church and Ashley Lewis, a student at the Ecumenical Theological Seminary and member of Fellowship Chapel. They discuss the factors contributing to the rise in mental health issues among Black youth, including the impact of social media and artificial intelligence. 

Lewis also shares a personal account of her teenage son’s struggles with bullying and emphasizes the importance of the church in cultivating a positive identity for Black children. She also addresses the deep-seated hesitancy within the Black community to seek mental health care, rooted in cultural mistrust and stigma.  

Plus, Keener highlights the church’s role in intervening during mental health crises by offering a caring ear and necessary resources, and the possibility of churches creating religious apps and social media platforms that could cultivate young people’s growth. 

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Watch American Black Journal on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on Detroit PBS, WTVS-Channel 56.