In 2008, National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established to raise awareness of mental health challenges in minority populations. While mental health conditions don’t discriminate based on race, gender or ethnicity, access to mental health treatment can be more difficult for some people to obtain than others.
It’s important for people to take on the challenge of raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with mental health conditions. National Minority Mental Health Month focuses on awareness of the fact that certain communities struggle with mental health challenges yet have less access to health care, lower quality care or cultural stigma. It’s time to change that, and change starts with awareness.
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Bebe Moore Campbell and the History of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
Bebe Moore Campbell was a leading African American author who was committed to mental health education and support of individuals in diverse communities. She believed that the U.S. needed a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, particularly one that targeted African Americans or other minority communities.
In May of 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives named July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The intent was to improve access to mental health treatment and to promote awareness of mental health conditions, especially mental illness among minorities.
Minority Mental Health Facts and Statistics
Compared to the general population, African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems such as major depression, posttraumatic stress disorder and suicide. They are more likely to come from an environment in which they have been exposed to violence or homelessness.
While one in five adults in the United States will experience mental illness, less than half of them will ever obtain treatment, and this is especially true for minority communities. African Americans and Hispanic Americans use mental health services about half as often as Caucasians.
The likelihood of a person getting the help they need for mental health challenges is lower among minority populations. Some of the reasons minorities are less likely to get the help they need include:
- Cost of treatment
- Lack of insurance coverage
- Stigma and judgment
- Misunderstanding about mental health
- Distrust of medical professionals
- Lack of diversity among mental health providers
- Language barriers
- Cultural beliefs
Multicultural communities often find that they face racism, bias, homophobia or discrimination in treatment settings. It is hoped that by raising awareness, those who need help will feel like they can get it.
Spread the Word
There are a variety of ways to get involved with supporting National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Throughout the month, strive to increase awareness of minority mental health concerns. Learn more about mental health and share what you learn with your community. The more people talk about mental illness, the less it feels like a taboo topic.
Find an organization in your community with expertise in mental health. This type of organization can help you to organize an event locally and find speakers who can share information on services and support that are available to those who most need it in your area.
Social media offers a powerful opportunity to share information and messages about issues and challenges surrounding minority mental health. During July, share information about advocacy and support activities online with the hashtags #IntoMentalHealth or #MinorityMentalHealth.
Continue the conversation on minority mental health and encourage friends and family to learn more about mental illness and treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling, please call us or submit the form below for more information about our treatment programs.