Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Diego Ponieman, M.D., M.P.H.

by Diego Ponieman M.D., M.P.H.

As mental health begins to get the type of attention and de-stigmatization it needs and deserves, there is a key piece that is often ignored: minority mental health. Since 2008, July has been designated as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month as a way to improve awareness for the mental health issues facing underrepresented groups.

As the National Alliance on Mental Illness explains, depending on your background and identity, access to mental health treatment could be much more difficult. This lack of treatment can be for a number of reasons, including lack of access to care, cultural stigma, and lower quality care.

Luckily, this month, organizations are dedicated to highlighting ways to make care more equal. In fact, this year Mental Health America is focusing on expanding the definition of minority to include all underrepresented groups, which includes those who may identify as part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum, refugee and immigrant groups, and religious groups.

Although minority groups face many challenges, there is an increasing number of support networks for members of minority groups who face mental health issues. Below are some of the ways to get involved and receive help:

  • #DepthOfMyIdentity Campaign: This Mental Health America campaign focuses on understanding the intersection between communities seen as victims and the accompanying mental health issues facing the people of these communities.
  • Strength Over Silence docuseries: The National Alliance on Mental Illness released a docuseries exploring the perspectives on mental health from the African-American and Latinx communities.
  • WhyCare? Campaign: This National Alliance on Mental Illness campaign is an opportunity to share how far support and advocacy for mental health goes in helping those with mental health issues
  • SAMHSA website: The SAMHSA website features specific programs designed for people of different racial backgrounds and the mental health challenges they face.
  • National Child Traumatic Stress Network list: NCTSN has compiled a list of resources surrounding mental illness in children and adolescents that focus on minority groups.

While many groups are underrepresented in both general health and mental health, there is an increasing number of avenues for minority groups to find help. These programs, however, do not work if you do not seek help. The single most important aspect of dealing with a mental illness or poor mental health is to reach out for help, whether that is via friends, family, or professionals. Stay healthy, stay safe, and support your loved ones by being proactive about your mental health.

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