Bebe Moore Campbell was a mental health advocate, teacher, journalist and author. Campbell wrote various novels and children’s books and discussed mental health with the public to help drive change, raise awareness and destigmatize 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 destigmatize 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.
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month also aims to debunk myths and misconceptions that deter individuals within these communities from getting treatment. While advocating for minority mental health initiatives, Campbell said, “stigma is one of the main reasons why people . . . don’t seek treatment or take their medication. People of color . . . feel the stigma more keenly.” Since these stigmas are still prevalent and impactful, the push to destigmatize mental health must continue.
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 minorities and are members of underrepresented groups. “It is vital that the vulnerable and marginalized families in our communities have The Guidance Center, a safe place, to turn to for help and healing,” says Patricia Costales, LCSW, CEO of The Guidance Center. “We are all interconnected and interrelated, and the experiences of our clients are an integral part of our organization’s culture.”
With your support and participation, we can continue to provide comprehensive mental health treatment to our community’s most disadvantaged children, raise awareness about minority mental health and foster change. When we all engage in these important conversations, we work toward normalizing discussions about mental health and getting treatment. Join us this month by:
Throughout the month we will share blog posts focusing on individuals’ diverse experiences with mental health. The topics will highlight the experiences of therapists, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ+ community and victims of sex-trafficking. 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.
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.
“Our world is rich with a diversity that should be celebrated and embraced.”
Patricia Costales, LCSW, CEO
The Guidance Center