Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Addresses Disparities in the Care System

Posted by on Jul 12, 2018 in News | 0 comments


Minority Mental Health Awareness Month at Hathaway-Sycamores

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) named July as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in honor of the late Bebe Moore Campbell, one of their leading advocates educating the public about mental health conditions. Now recognized by organizations nationwide, this awareness month furthers the conversation across many diverse communities to build a common understanding around mental health. The focus on Minority Mental Health has multiple purposes – to highlight the disparities in care for those living in under-represented and under-served communities; to dispel misinformation these communities receive about mental health; to emphasize the importance of attending to this aspect of our health; and to diffuse stigma around living with a mental health condition.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) provides some staggering statistics about the state of mental health care for under-represented Americans. Among African American adolescents experiencing a major depressive episode, more than 70% did not receive treatment for their condition. Almost 25% of adolescents with a major depressive episode in the last year were Hispanic/Latino. Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic groups. In the past year, nearly 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Native young adults had serious thoughts of suicide. In the past year, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults had a diagnosable mental illness.

Part of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is about dispelling myths and providing the public with relevant and customized information. Various organizations offer resources to educate and empower community members about mental health. NAMI provides a helpful guide on Finding a Mental Health Care Provider that Fits Your Cultural Background, and other resources such as bilingual informational and discussion guides on mental health like Sharing Hope to emphasize that mental health is just as important a focus as physical wellbeing.

Meanwhile, a large part of the discussion is about diffusing stigma around mental illness, and creating safe, supportive spaces for individuals to share their experience with mental health conditions. If you or someone you know could benefit from sharing, sites like You Are Not Alone  provide an immediate space to post about experiences with mental illness, while Mental Health America’s #MyStoryMyWay campaign encourages individuals to share their story through video. Or share your story by  joining a live conversation on Minority Mental Health through the Office of Minority Health’s Twitter chat on July 18.

There are many ways to participate in Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and we encourage you to connect with diverse communities on and offline to discuss this important topic in July and in the months moving forward.

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