July is Minority Mental Health Month, and with the current events encompassing our nation, this month looks very different today than it has in the past. There is a lot of sadness, pain, hurt, confusion, and so many other emotions. There is an uprising that has swept the globe, as individuals fight racial injustices. We see people coming together, people are finding their inner voices, people are marching, people are creating change.

Unfortunately, there is another hidden enemy among minority groups; the stigma of mental health. According to NAMI, 16 percent of black adults, 17 percent of Hispanic or Latinx adults and 15 percent of Asian adults will have a mental illness over a 12 month period. Not many of these men and women will seek treatment. However, it is so important to remember to practice self-care, especially during a time like this.

Bebe Moore Campbell, a mental health advocate, teacher, journalist and author said this, “As I grow older part of my emotional survival plan must be to actively seek inspiration instead of passively waiting for it to find me.” Campbell wrote various novels and children’s books and discussed mental health with the public to help drive change, raise awareness and de-stigmatize mental health conditions and treatment. After a family member struggled to accept his mental illness because of cultural stigmas and shame, Campbell set out to establish a national campaign that would help minorities combat stigma and get the help they need.1

Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to de-stigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans…It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.” Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005

In 2008, July was designated as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This month aims to spread the public’s awareness of the distinct challenges that communities face in regard to attaining mental health treatment and education.2 Individuals in these communities, like Campbell’s family, have unique struggles, identities, values and beliefs that can impact their mental health. Additionally, “minority status [and] experiences with prejudice, discrimination, racism, and oppression, can impact one’s self-worth and, thus, mental health outcomes.”3 Therefore, discussing and addressing mental health with an approach that acknowledges their diverse experiences is vital.

This July, we are joining other mental health organizations and associations to raise awareness of Minority Mental Health Month and continue the conversation Campbell ignited. Over 85 percent of the clients we serve self-identify as a minority and are members of underrepresented groups.

“During these horrendous times, Minority Mental Health Month is a time to recognize minority therapists and social workers who are giving back there time and energy to there respective communities. As a black man, I feel it is imperative that I take a stand for social injustice,” said Guidance Center Clinical Therapist, Steve McBride, LMFT. “We must continue to be safe and keep social distancing, however, the fight for social justice and equality is not over! We will continue to stand in strength throughout the months to come!”

Below are graphics that Stevie put together to help us understand that, in the midst of everything, self-care is still highly important.

Learning

Throughout the month we will share blog posts focusing on individuals’ diverse experiences with mental health. The topics will highlight the experiences of different cultures and ethnic groups. Be sure to check out each post and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter to stay engaged and gain additional knowledge and understanding.

Looking to learn more about mental health? NAMI and Mental Health America are also helpful resources.

Sharing

Help us normalize mental health conditions and treatments by engaging in conversations with your family, friends and networks. Remember to share resources and the information you’ve learned.

Mental Health America (MHA) has compiled information on mental health issues impacting different minority groups to help you start these conversations.

Become an advocate for children’s mental health

The Guidance Center relies on the generosity of our friends and donors to help provide the much needed support for our programs. Your contribution will make a huge difference in the lives of those we serve every day.

References

1 Author Bebe Moore Campbell Dies at 56. (2006, November 27). Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/templates/story/

2 NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Minority-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month/Learn-About-Minority-Mental-Health-Month

3 Disparities in child and adolescent mental health and mental health services in the U.S., Margarita Alegría, Jennifer Greif Green, Katie A. McLaughlin, Stephen Loder, 2015

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