Mental health awareness has grown significantly in the past decade. From disorder recognition to the general prioritization of mental wellbeing, there are more resources available now than ever when it comes to improving your mental health.
However, mental health does not affect everyone the same way. Unfortunately, there are significant disparities among minority communities that make them more likely to suffer from poor mental health, and less likely to have access to the treatment they need.
To recognize these inequities, July has been designated National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Observance of this month serves to highlight the unique mental health struggles faced by BIPOC communities.
Read on to learn more about this important month, and find out what you can do to stand in solidarity.
The History of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was officially established in 2008. The effort to shed light on the unique mental health experiences of minority groups was led by Bebe Moore Campbell. An author, teacher, and journalist, Campbell was a fierce advocate for mental health needs on behalf of the Black community. During her lifetime, Campbell also founded the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to destigmatize mental illnesses that many BIPOC—herself included—suffer from.
Since its establishment, the month has been a time to acknowledge the mental health disorders and struggles that disproportionately affect minority communities. During the month, public education campaigns and other events are held to generate awareness of the mental health experiences unique to BIPOC.
On Mental Health in Minority Populations
Nearly one in five adults in the United States suffers from a mental illness. However, about two-thirds of this group does not get the treatment they need. Minority groups are even less likely to receive any help when they are struggling. For BIPOC, mental disorders such as depression are disproportionately likely to cause disabilities or other long-term repercussions.
Although mental illnesses can affect anyone regardless of their race or background, there are unique barriers that affect the care and treatment available to BIPOC communities. These barriers—both internal and external—make minority populations more likely to suffer from mental illnesses, and less likely to receive the proper care.
Challenges to Mental Health for BIPOC
There are unique challenges faced by minority communities when it comes to their mental health and getting the treatment they deserve.
Members of minority groups are much less likely to have insurance, or the funds needed to pay for care, meaning in many cases they go without treatment entirely. Members of Black and Hispanic communities are also more likely to receive care primarily from an emergency room due to not having a regular care provider. This leads to both a lack of preventative medicine and continuous care.
Additionally, cultural stigmas are a unique barrier to adequate mental health care. In many communities, admitting one’s mental health struggles is taboo, making it difficult to seek treatment.
Recognizing National Minority Mental Health Month This July
When it comes to mental health in underrepresented communities, widespread education and awareness is key to minimizing disparities.
This month, take some time to recognize the unique mental health challenges faced by BIPOC. And, check out some of the activities below to do your part in the effort to promote equality in mental health care.
Anyone is welcome to participate in Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, whether or not you suffer from a mental illness yourself. In fact, one of the best ways to gain a widespread understanding of the unfair challenges facing BIPOC today is to educate those outside the community.
There are plenty of ways you can raise awareness about the mental health disparities prevalent in the modern world. Simply having a conversation with those around you who are unaware can help create the allies needed to attain systemic change.
Social media is also a powerful tool when it comes to raising awareness. Sharing posts or making some of your own that draw attention to Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is a great way to get more people involved.
Volunteer and Donate
If you have the means to share your money or time, doing so is a great way to support mental health organizations that are dedicated to the disparities in treatment.
Consider donating to a nonprofit organization that has the means to use your money to help the cause. Or, attend an event in support of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month where you can engage in your community and connect with others. Organizations like NAMI often hold events like walks or conventions that help to raise awareness in a way that is fun for people of all ages.
One thing you can do to recognize Minority Mental Health Awareness Month on your own is to strengthen your education. If you are not a member of the BIPOC community, taking the time to learn about the disparities built into the mental health care system is one of the most helpful things you can do.
Check out some books or articles from reputable sources that can help you expand upon your mental health knowledge. Firsthand accounts from BIPOC are especially helpful as they can give you a glimpse into the kind of experiences underrepresented communities are having every day.
Share Your Story
Personal stories are often a large factor in helping an issue gain widespread traction. If you’re a member of the BIPOC community who suffers from a mental illness, sharing your story is one of the strongest things you can do to raise awareness of the disparities built into the healthcare system. Not only that but being vocal about your experiences can encourage others to share their own—and the more people who speak out, the better.
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Invest in your own mental health this July, and schedule a consultation at Oasis TMS today.