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July 2023 is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

In the month of July every year, it is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Accessing mental healthcare can be challenging, and even more so if you are a minority. This month, it is important to bring awareness to the unique issues that minorities face in accessing mental healthcare.

Racial and ethnic minorities often suffer from poor mental health outcomes due to multiple factors, including lack of access to quality mental health care services, cultural stigma surrounding mental health care, discrimination, and overall lack of awareness about mental health.

The goal of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is to help minority communities become more aware of mental health issues, so that they will be able to seek treatment for their mental health. By creating awareness, we can help to reduce the stigma around mental health for many people.

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was first recognized in 2008, and is in the legacy of Bebe Moore Campbell, who pioneered in mental health for minority communities.

She co-founded NAMI Urban Los Angeles and became a national change agent whose groundbreaking work revolutionized the way we approach mental health in underserved communities. She recognized and understood the detrimental consequences of silence rooted in stigma — one of the reasons for the lack of mental health care and treatment within communities of color.

When we can break the silence and stigma that surrounds mental health and receiving care, we can help to make sure that people in minority communities are having their mental health needs met. Suffering in silence with Anxiety, Depression, PTSD or another mental health condition can greatly damage people's lives. Getting treatment is crucial for healing.

According to Simmons University, some barriers that stop minorities from receiving mental health services are:

  • Different cultural perceptions about mental illness and well-being

  • Racism and discrimination

  • Being more vulnerable to being uninsured

  • Cultural differences in help-seeking behaviors

  • Language and other communication barriers

  • Fear and mistrust of treatment

Since many providers in the mental health community are white, this can create a barrier to minorities seeking out services, or receiving culturally-competent services when they do. By educating professionals on cultural differences, we can help to bridge this divide, and provide better mental health services to minorities.

People from a minority background are also less likely to have health insurance, or to understand the medical system in the United States (which can be difficult to navigate for anyone!). This can lead to additional problems for those seeking out services.

According to Mental Health America, here is a list of resources to help Black and African Americans accessing mental health treatment:

  • Black Emotional and Mental Health (BEAM): BEAM is a training, movement building and grant making organization dedicated to the healing, wellness, and liberation of Black communities. BEAM envisions a world where there are no barriers to Black Healing.

    • Toolkits & Education: graphics on accountability, self-control, and emotional awareness; journal prompts; articles on Black mental health

    • Videos: trainings and webinars, recorded and available for free

  • The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation: changing the perception of mental illness in the African-American community by encouraging people to get the help they need; focuses on stigma/self-stigma reduction and building trust between Black people and the mental health field.

    • Resource Guide: directory of mental health providers and programs that serve the Black community; includes therapists, support groups, etc, but also digital content, faith-based programs, educational programs, etc

  • Therapy for Black Girls: online space encouraging the mental wellness of Black women and girls; referral tool to find a therapist in your area

    • Therapist Directory: find trusted therapists that can help you navigate being a strong, Black woman; can search for in-office therapist by your location or virtual therapist.

  • The Loveland Foundation: financial assistance to Black women & girls seeking therapy

  • Therapy for Black Men: primarily a therapist directory for Black men seeking therapy; includes some resources and stories.

  • Dr. Ebony’s My Therapy Cards: self-exploration card deck created by a Black female psychologist for other women of color; created with the intention of helping other women of color grow and elevate in the areas of emotional and mental health.

  • Innopsych: InnoPsych’s mission is to bring healing to communities of color by changing the face and feel of therapy. They strive to make therapists of color more visible in the community by creating a path to wellness-themed business ownership; to make it faster (and easier) for people of color to match with a therapist of color; and to create a major shift in how communities of color (or POCs) view therapy.

  • Safe Black Space: Safe Black Space is the umbrella under which various services are offered to address people of African ancestry’s individual and community reactions to cultural and racial trauma.

If you want to get involved in National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and spread the message that getting help for mental illness is important for everyone, you can get involved in the #ShadesofMentalHealth Campaign from the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

#ShadesofMentalHealth recognizes and celebrates the rich diversity and uniqueness within the mental health community. It encourages inclusivity, empathy and understanding while striving for more equitable and culturally competent approaches to mental health support and care.

Their website provides sample social media posts that you can use, as well as premade graphics that you can post on your social channels to raise awareness.

Starting conversations about mental health can help to raise awareness as well, and to reduce stigma in society towards those of us with mental health issues. You can share your own stories about coping with a mental health issue if you feel able to do so. This can go a long way towards helping others to see that there is no shame in seeking help.

No one should have to suffer alone in silence with a mental health condition. The more we can do as a society to offer help, the more people will be able to come forward and seek out therapy when it is needed.

If you are suffering with a mental health condition yourself, here are some tips to find a therapist.

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