One in six U.S. children between the ages of 6 and 17 has a treatable mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety problems or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health data published online in JAMA Pediatrics. And, according to this same report, an alarming 49.4 percent of children with a mental health disorder did not receive necessary treatment or counseling from a mental health professional. Unmet mental health needs can lead to behavioral issues at home and school, poor academic performance, encounters with law enforcement, depression and increased risk of suicide.
Sadly, mental illness does not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. A report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) states that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental health care access and quality of care contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.
Additionally, factors such as fear of discrimination based on race, cultural stigma, historical experiences and socioeconomic disparities can make access to treatment even much more difficult.
The Guidance Center envisions a community where all children have the help they need to be healthy and happy, regardless of any of the aforementioned factors. We put action behind this vision by providing comprehensive mental health treatment to our community’s most disadvantaged children and their families struggling with mental illness and abuse, leading them toward a positive and productive future. This month, we are joining other organizations and community partners to life our voices and raise awareness in support of Minority Mental Health Month.
Why is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Important?
Established in 2008 in honor of Bebe Moore Cambell, author, co-founder of NAMI Los Angeles and national spokesperson, Minority Mental Health Month is a nationwide effort to “bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regard to mental illness in the United States.” Some of the unique struggles stated include systemic barriers, socioeconomic challenges, historical adversity and cultural perception. By raising awareness to the stigmas surrounding mental illness and the difficulties in receiving treatment, communities become more open to seeking resources.
How can you support Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?
Take time to increase your knowledge and understanding of Minority Mental Health Awareness. Here are some resources with information about the month.
Raise Awareness (share your own story)
By sharing your own mental health journey, you can let others know they aren’t alone. Visit NAMI’s (National Alliance on Mental Illness) “Share Your Story” page for ideas on how you can start the conversation.
Be an Advocate
Use your voice in conversation to educate others. Social media is a great nonverbal tool to educate friends, family members and others by sharing resources and information about Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation’s largest mental health organization. Through Tumblr, NAMI hosts an online platform titled, “You Are Not Alone” which gives individuals the opportunity to share a video, short story or poem on their journey with mental illness.
SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) offers a 24/7, 365 day a year hotline which provides free, confidential treatment referral and information services. SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
MHA (Mental Health America) is the nation’s leading nonprofit organization advocating for mental health and addressing the needs of those living with mental illness. They offer tools for mental wellness, guides on how to find help for yourself or someone else, along with many other resources offering support and education on the topic of mental health. https://mhanational.org/
 Mental Health America, mhanational.org