HEALTH & WELLNESS
BLACK HEALTH MATTERS
"We are in the midst of an unprecedented era. Black men are more likely to die from chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer than white men, and their average life expectancy is lower. Experts point to a variety of factors that might play a role, but many say the most pervasive is racism. Racism—both interpersonal and structural—negatively affects the mental and physical health of millions of people, preventing them from attaining their highest level of health, and consequently, affecting the health of our nation. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated has partnered with Black Health Matters to address the inequities posed by the health disparities experienced by the African American community."
Reuben A. Shelton, III, Esq., 34th Grand Polemarch, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
CURRENT HEALTH & WELLNESS INITIATIVES
Though seemingly unrelated, lung cancer and poor mental health share some sobering characteristics for black people: Both contribute to higher death rates than those seen in other populations. Black men have the highest rates of lung cancer in the nation, though members of the black community, on average, begin smoking later in life than whites do, and we smoke fewer cigarettes per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cancer is the second-highest cause of death among black people; heart disease is the first. At the extreme end of poor mental health, suicide was the second leading cause of death for black people ages 15 to 24 in 2017 (though not specifically males). Yet the death by suicide rate for black men was more than four times greater than for black women in the same year, according to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In an effort to change those numbers, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., is focusing on both areas for its 2021-2022 health and wellness initiative. Stephen Broughton, M.D., a psychiatrist based in Pine Bluffs, Arkansas, is chair. According to Dr. Broughton, a number of socioeconomic factors are involved in health disparities, not necessarily what could look like genetic predisposition. People, no matter their ethnicity, with lower levels of education and living below the poverty line smoke at higher rates, according to the CDC. Inequities around access to care and information, which do fall along racial lines, contribute to the problem. Right now, though, the bigger push for the organization’s initiative is improving the mental health of its brothers and the larger black community.