Experts want to see two realms improve during Black History Month

NORTH, Miss. (WCBI)- We’re halfway through Black History Month and so far plenty of light has been shed on many folks in communities; however these days Black History month isn’t only about history. People are trying to spread awareness and information to help the African American community today.

Mental health and financial literacy are just two areas that experts and community leaders would like to see more African Americans focus on to help communities build stronger futures. Mental health has really come to the forefront in the last six years.

“Since 2015 the rise of suicides have risen among African American men it’s almost 80 percent of the cases have been African American males,” said John Jefferson of Clay County Community Counseling.

Jefferson said those numbers continue to rise because in the African American community there’s a stigma.

“A lot of African Americans fear it as a sign of weakness or a sign of someone labeling you as being crazy,” said Jefferson.

Talking about it could cause another issue.

“It’s one of those topics; it’s afraid to be talked about amongst families especially in the African American community; we’re afraid to discuss it and afraid to bring it up because no one wants to be isolated out, or singled out, or separated from the family,” said Jefferson.

Jefferson said that mental illness doesn’t have a race or gender, and he encouraged families to pay attention to a loved ones change in behavior.

Financial literacy is another big topic, and that starts with the basics.

“Understanding the concept of what it’s like to save, to invest, and not create a lot of debt. To have an emergency fund and I had to learn that the hard way,” said Renasant Bank marketing president in Aberdeen Hozay Hausley.

Hausley said Black History Month meant a lot to him. Hausley was recently selected as Mississippi’s most influential African American.

He said when it comes to learning about money, the younger you start, the better.

“Start a savings plan now if it’s nothing but pennies, nickles, dimes, or quarters it adds up; and if you start it now as they get older who knows what they’ll have,” said Hausley.

The years have brought great change and Hausley says that he felt like people like Dr. Martin Luther King jr would be proud.

“We’ve come a long way in this country yet it’s still a ways to go but we’re in a much better position than we were. We have the opportunity now to be what we want to be, to go where we want to go I mean we have a great opportunity to be successful in life,” said Hausley.

Hausley and Jefferson do more outside of their nine to five jobs to help folks in their community with each of these issues. They encourage people to reach out if they need help.

Categories: Local News

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