This year, Minority Mental Health Month occurs during a national dialog about racism and systemic oppression. One aspect of oppression is the use of power-based language such as "minority," rather than people-centered language such as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). That's why July is now renamed #BIPOCMentalHealthMonth. This is the time to focus on the multigenerational impact of the trauma that is caused by racial injustice.
Each year millions of people face the reality of living with a mental health condition regardless of race, gender, and circumstance. Although these struggles do not discriminate, background and identity has been a huge determining factor in the way in which people receive help and resources
Ethnic/racial minorities often bear a disproportionately high burden of disability resulting from mental disorders.
Although rates of depression are lower in blacks (24.6%) and Hispanics (19.6%) than in whites (34.7%), depression in blacks and Hispanics is likely to be more persistent
Mental health problems are common among people in the criminal justice system, which has a disproportionate representation of racial/ ethnic minorities. Approximately 50% to 75% of youth in the juvenile justice system meet criteria for a mental health disorder.
Racial/ethnic minority youth with behavioral health issues are more readily referred to the juvenile justice system than to specialty primary care, compared with white youth.
Lack of cultural understanding by health care providers may contribute to underdiagnosis and/or misdiagnosis of mental illness in people from racially/ethnically diverse populations. Factors that contribute to these kinds of misdiagnoses include language differences between patient and provider, stigma of mental illness among minority groups, and cultural presentation of symptoms. (American Psychiatry Association: Mental-Health-Facts-for-Diverse-Populations)
The mental health and suicide prevention needs among minority populations continues to grow, as the issues of quality care, inequity and lack of cross cultural knowledge serve as barriers to care. More factors affecting access to treatment by members of diverse ethnic/racial groups may include:
+ Lack of insurance, under insurance
+ Mental illness stigma, often greater among minority populations
+ Lack of diversity among mental health care providers
+ Lack of culturally competent providers (shortage of professionals who understand this population in community health clinics)
+ Language barriers
+ Distrust in the health care system
+ Inadequate support for mental health service in safety net settings (uninsured, Medicaid, Health Insurance Coverage other vulnerable patients)
In order to change the narrative, we all need to continue to spread awareness about the disparities in our healthcare system that disproportionately isolates minorities. We also need to share resources and stories that can help uplift minority experiences.
Here are a few #Minoritymentalhealth resources to help you get started:
Check out this recording of the COVID/Racism/Behavioral Health meeting, which also allows you to view the slides and read a transcript.
Articles by Dr. Powell, Reverend Anderson, and other speakers (most of which are not specific to behavioral health but good additional resources):
Acknowledge that the issue is not individual but collective. No one person is responsible for their own trauma or lack of access to resources. Rather than assume that a person is not trying hard enough to get help, think about the system and how accessible it can be or has not been.
Here is how YOU can help an make a difference:
Raise awareness on social media and within your own social/professional networks. You can start with sharing this blog!
Share resources specifically designed for people from diverse communities with family, friends or your community.
Help inspire positive conversations about mental health in your community. Take a pledge or share your story.
Partner with a specific community for a mental health awareness event. Get connected!
If you or someone you know needs help:
Visit our treatment page to take an online screening or find a local provider, or check out warmlines and virtual support groups on our COVID page and calendar, or call one of the state's 24/7 hotlines.
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