Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is extremely important to all of us here at Peak Wellness Center.
All month long, we will be highlighting the ways in which experiencing stigma around mental health conditions and treatment vary greatly among our diverse population.
No one person or culture is the same; that's why it's important to raise awareness. There are millions of people who are suffering but do not have access to care for what is usually a treatable condition because stigma can be so polarizing.
Origins of MMHAM
The pioneer of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is Bebe Moore Campbell. Bebe was an author, alongside being an unwavering advocate for the mentally ill and the founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles. She lost her battle with with brain cancer in 2006.
"Stigma is one of the main reasons why people with mental health problems don't seek treatment or take their medication," Campbell said in an NPR news article. "People of color, particularly African Americans, feel the stigma more keenly. In a race-conscious society, some don't want to be perceived as having yet another deficit." (You can read the article here.)
In 2008, the US proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Today, over a decade later, we are still dedicated to helping to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and treatment, especially among cultures and communities where that stigma is more prevalent. This year, let's renew our focus on helping everyone get the treatment they need.
According to Mental Health America:
- Depression among black youth is 30% higher than average for their age group.
- A person of color is more likely to be incarcerated than have their mental health condition identified. Unfortunately, once incarcerated, they're less likely to receive mental health care.
- Multi-racial adults are more likely to experience mental illness than adults who identify as any single race.
Intergenerational trauma is another way in which black people experience degradation of mental health. This is trauma that is passed down through generations: "The pain and the angst and the hurt and the fear and…. the sense of inferiority that has been imposed on you," Myrna Lashley, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at McGill University in Montreal, said in a news article.
Racism has serious effects on mental and physical health, including cardiovascular problems, addiction, obesity and diabetes, along with high stress, depression and anger.
This is not OK. Let's change things; let's break the cycle. Let's commit to educating ourselves first and foremost so we can begin to make changes in ourselves and those around us. These resources are a great starting point:
Latino and Latina-specific stigmas
What are some of the mental health stigmas prevalent in Latino/Latina households and communities? Lack of access to medical care and insurance, strong religious beliefs, and an increased stigma among family elders that mental health treatment can being shame and embarrassment to the family all contribute to reduced mental health care.
But lack of mental health care is hurting Latino/Latina and Hispanic communities greatly. Serious mental illness, suicide attempts and major depressive illness are all on the rise.
What can we do to reduce the stigma? Let's start breaking down the barriers to care. Talk to your local and national legislators to make access to health care a priority. Let's work toward a better tomorrow, with equal access to care for everyone.
At Peak, we have already taken steps toward that goal with our Sliding Fee Discount Program that helps bridge the income gap for those who cannot afford it. And we offer Spanish-speaking services and Spanish translations so that our clients do not feel a helpless against a communication barrier.
But we know there is always more we can do, and so we promise to keep the conversation open to ways we can better serve all communities.
Information sourced from Mental Health America (MHA).
Some valuable resources
We may be recognizing Minority Mental Health Awareness Month throughout July, but we know that raising awareness for these issues is a year-long effort. Let's honor Bebe Moore Campbell's legacy by helping increase access to mental health care and eliminating the stigma associated with care, a stigma which is often stronger among Black, Latino/Latina, Native American, Asian and and other cultures. Let's do less talking and more listening.
And if you do need help, start by browsing these resources that will point you in the right direction, or pick up the phone and reach out to us with a call, an email or a message on social media. We're always here, and we're always listening.
Let's continue the conversation on social media
If you'd like to join us on social media to continue the conversation, please follow the links below:
Here's a link to our Facebook page.
Here's where you can find us on Twitter.
And don't forget to follow us on Instagram!