Mental health has been a taboo topic in the African American community until recently. Parents have stated that African American boys are misdiagnosed with ADHD due to cultural insensitivities. This furthers the stigma around ADHD in the Black community.
In an Op-Ed published by the New York Times, Professor Donna Ford of Vanderbilt University shared, “boys tend to be more active than girls, and African-Americans are known for being movement-oriented, tactile and kinesthetic. This is considered normal and healthy in the African-American community but not necessarily so in schools.”
Although there’s been a 70% increase in ADHD diagnoses in the Black community, white children are part of the majority and are diagnosed at higher rates than Black students. Furthermore, stereotypes surrounding ADHD prevent children from receiving a diagnosis or treatment. On the other end of the spectrum, for parents who might be open to treating a potential ADHD diagnosis, they are unaware of the symptoms.
“I do believe stereotypes play a part in students being properly diagnosed for having ADHD or not having ADHD,” Shared Mr. Ovando Brown, Instructor at Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown, MD. “Stereotypically within the communities, there are not a lot of resources available.”
Caution on behalf of both parents and physicians must be taken when considering ADHD diagnoses in young Black boys.