July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

By Ming T. Strother, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician

Ming T. Strother, LSCSWJuly is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives designated July as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a time to bring focused attention to the unique challenges that racial and ethnic minorities in the United States face as it relates to mental health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), defines mental health as a state that includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects the way we think, feel, act, respond to stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health issues are not uncommon, and according to the CDC, one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. Mental health issues are treatable and frequently preventable. However, not everyone has access to needed resources.

Access to Mental Health Care

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness MonthFrequently, people from racial and ethnic minority groups have trouble getting mental health care. Trouble getting help is attributable to several things. Inadequate health insurance and cost of care are significant barriers. It can also be difficult to find providers from one’s own racial or ethnic group. Stigma and negative ideas about mental health care also prevent people from seeking mental health services.

When we work together for mental health equity, everyone benefits and everyone has a role to play. As individuals, we can learn about mental health and healthy ways to cope with stress and loss. We can share information, coping skills, and resources with our family, friends, and community in language that projects compassion, acceptance, and that is non stigmatizing.

Within our communities, working to normalize conversations about mental health and sharing our own stories can be impactful. Also, tailoring the approach to conversations about mental health, being creative with wording, and making the connection between mental and physical health are effective ways to help with normalization of these conversations. We can educate ourselves and be aware of our own implicit biases and use of microaggressions, whether intentional or unintentional.

Mental Health Program Development

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness MonthPublic Health Organizations should be sure to include racial and ethnic minorities in program development and include their ideas, perspectives, and decision-making at every stage. Healthcare systems can routinely screen patients for depression and other mental health conditions. They should be prepared to refer patients to accessible services. They should make mental health materials available to patients on a variety of platforms. Also, efforts should be made to recruit mental health providers from racial and ethnic groups representing the population served.

States and communities should work to expand community-based mental health services that are culturally responsive and assure that they are accessible and affordable. Efforts should be made to review and revise policies that reinforce or promote stigma. Partnerships with community and faith-based leaders should be developed to encourage conversations about mental health to help reduce stigma.

To learn more about Health Partnership Clinic’s Behavioral Health Services, please visit our website.
To schedule an appointment, call 913-648-2266.

“People of color, particularly African Americans, feel the stigma more keenly. In a race-conscious society, some don’t want to be perceived as having yet another deficit.”

Bebe Moore Campbell

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