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STANDING IN THE SHADOWS: Understanding and Overcoming Depression in Black Men

By John Head

The subject of Black men and depression, has, in the black community, remained a taboo topic, discussed only when absolutely unavoidable. John Head courageously examines the effects that the unwillingness to look at and talk about mental illness has had on generations of black men and their families. In a book as daring and explosive as Nathan McCall's disclosure of black men's violence and aggression, Head takes on depression and uncovers black men's buried emotional pain.

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS weaves the author's story of his struggle against depression with a cultural look at why depression in black men remains one of the last taboos in black culture. Head argues that the most likely path to psychotherapy and medication for African-American men with depression is through the back door of the mental health care system--hospital emergency rooms, prisons, and homeless shelters. By then, it is often too late. Not only will this book be a keen reportorial about black men and depression, but will also showcase how Head himself has struggled with depression for the last twenty-five years. In a darker phase of his life, he moved out of his family home and into an apartment so that his sons wouldn't see his depression. Now he has moved through various stages of dealing with the disease, and has come out victorious in how he manages it.

John Head believes that the neglect of emotional disorders in black men is nothing less than racial suicide. Historically, it goes back to slavery when it was believed that blacks had no psyche and thereby no possibility for psychic pain. In order for the silence of black depression to evaporate, Head argues, the dominant culture would have to take responsibility for the inflicted pain. Instead, we would rather blame black men themselves as violent and aggressive.

STANDING IN THE SHADOWS also examines the ways in which the black community colludes with white culture in keeping black men's emotional disorders underground. Head discusses the role of the church, the family, and the changing nature of black women in American culture. Finally, STANDING IN THE SHADOWS is a call to action for the black community and the psychiatric community to end the silent suffering of black men.

Black Men and Depression
By John Head
Published by Broadway Books
The Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group
August 10, 2004/$22.95/Hardcover
211 pages/ISBN: 0-7679-1353-1

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