MMHM 2018 Blog - Feature Image

One in 5 children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental health condition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). New data shows that depression has surpassed asthma as the number one health issue for U.S. youth. Unmet mental health needs often lead to issues at school that prevent successfully graduating, and cause troubles in the home and encounters with law enforcement.

Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity, but experiences and accessing care can be challenging due to cultural factors.

Our vision at The Guidance Center is to create a community where all children have the help they need to be healthy and happy. That’s why we’re joining with mental health organizations and associations around the county this July Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to raise awareness and cure stigma.

Why is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month important?

Mental health stigma is unfortunately prevalent throughout the world. That stigma can look and sound different in every community. Myths and misconceptions – that mental health issues are taboo or just weaknesses – can be passed down through generations, preventing those struggling from asking for help. Cultural traditions can also play a role in how each community perceives and copes with mental health and treatment of related issues.

For marginalized communities, stigma is not the only thing that can prevent those struggling from getting the help they need to heal. In addition to the cultural stigma, many communities face significant barriers in accessibility to mental health services including health coverage and lower quality care.

Quality of care is not equal. But, it doesn’t have to remain this way.

How can you support and participate in Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?

  • Use your voice
    • Share your story – Struggling with a mental health challenge can be very isolating. Finding others around you who may be experiencing similar challenges is powerful. Sharing your story is often the first step in discovering you’re not alone and creating a network of support that will help de-stigmatize mental health as well as aid in your recovery and management of symptoms. If you’re not ready to have an in-person conversation with a loved one, there are safe places online to share your story and experience support from peers, like Ok2Talk or You Are Not Alone.
    • Become an advocate – Start the conversation at home, with friends or in your workplace to normalize mental health conditions and treatments. Support loved ones by being a safe place for them to share their story. Encourage them to seek professional help. Share information and resources in-person and on social media. Advocate for broader inclusion.If you’re looking to start the conversation in your community but don’t know where to start, Mental Health America (MHA) has compiled information on mental health issues impacting different minority groups to help make that conversation easier. They’ve also provided materials in Spanish. Click here to view. MedlinePlus also provides mental health information in multiple languages.

Fighting stigma and normalizing mental health conditions and treatments requires all of us to raise our voices. Share our stories. And be a safe place for yourself and others.

Join us this month in support of Minority Mental Health Month. There’s hope when we support each other.