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Expert Tips: Navigating Childhood Bipolar Disorder in Black Families

March 29, 2024

March 29, 2024

World Bipolar Day, celebrated annually on March 30, sheds light on the prevalence and significance of bipolar disorder, particularly within communities where discussions around mental health often carry a heavy burden of stigma. For the African-American community, this conversation is especially vital, given the unique challenges and barriers to seeking help and addressing mental health issues.

Dr. Gabrielle Jones, CEO of Steady LLC (, emphasizes the importance of raising awareness about bipolar disorder, particularly within marginalized communities. Her expertise provides valuable insights into the challenges faced by Black families in recognizing and addressing bipolar disorder in children.

Gabrielle Jones, PhD

Bipolar disorder is a complex condition characterized by mood swings ranging from extreme highs (mania or hypomania) to extreme lows (depression). Dr. Jones highlights the nuanced manifestation of bipolar disorder across different age groups:

Children: Symptoms may manifest as physical aggression, emotional instability, and extreme isolation, significantly impacting daily functioning.

Adults: Manic episodes in adults may involve excessive spending, risky behaviors, and disruptions in daily life activities.

Within the African-American community, recognizing and managing bipolar disorder presents unique hurdles, as Dr. Jones elaborates:

Stigma: There’s a pervasive stigma surrounding mental health issues, contributing to reluctance to seek help or discuss symptoms openly.

“Black kids may be more likely than white kids to get the wrong diagnosis when they show signs of a mood disorder.”


Misdiagnosis: Black children are often misdiagnosed with conditions like oppositional defiant disorder or schizophrenia due to systemic biases, leading to inappropriate treatment approaches.

Dr. Gabrielle Jones offers proactive steps for parents navigating the challenges of bipolar disorder in their children:

Seek Culturally Competent Care: Look for mental health professionals who prioritize racial equity in their practice and advocate for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

Education: Parents should educate themselves about the condition and treatment options to ensure informed decision-making and effective advocacy for their child’s needs.

“The way Black families perceive most mental health diagnoses in children are often attributed to a lack of discipline. However, this comes from the fact that Black people have not had the privilege or freedom to “misbehave” in the world.”

– Dr. Gabrielle Jones

Foster Supportive Environments: Creating a safe and understanding environment at home is crucial, encouraging open communication and providing unconditional love and support.

For Black families grappling with bipolar disorder in children, accessing tailored resources and support networks is essential:

Community Resources: Organizations like Steady LLC offer mental health resources tailored to the Black community, providing valuable support and guidance.

Support Groups: Dr. Jones encourages parents to seek out support groups or online communities where they can connect, share experiences, and access additional resources.

As World Bipolar Day approaches, Dr. Gabrielle Jones and Steady LLC advocate for awareness, understanding, and support for all individuals affected by bipolar disorder. Through education, advocacy, and collaboration, we can work towards a more inclusive and supportive environment for those living with bipolar disorder, particularly within communities where the need for awareness and support is most pressing.

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