Did you know that July ushers in National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month? I think this topic should be a focus year-round, but this is a great time to raise awareness about minorities’ mental health issues. That entails considering all of the specific challenges various groups may face—including stigma around discussing mental health, substance use resulting from mental health causes, increased risk for experiencing more serious consequences (including PTSD and trauma) in the era of COVID-19, and often limited or restricted access to treatment for mental health issues.By opening up discussions around mental health, we’re all winners—because the more these topics are brought into the light, the more comfortable we can all feel with sharing our struggles, whatever they may be. Click To Tweet
How to Support National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
The Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) organization explains that culture influences values, norms, expectations, and identity—thus affecting our perceptions, actions, and interactions, including what we believe about health and mental health, how we treat or cope with symptoms, and how we will be impacted by treatment. This Minority Mental Health Month, MHFA recommends that everyone take time to not only learn about other cultures but also to show support to our fellow Americans. With this blog, I’m trying to help spread awareness about this important topic. Here are some of the steps you can take to help all month long—and beyond:
- Educate yourself. There is a range of research that points to how mental health or substance use challenges may affect minorities in a different and potentially more devastating way. By understanding other cultures’ values, it’s easier to understand how mental health might affect them. Throughout July, the Office of Minority Health (OMH) will be promoting tools and resources that address mental health stigma among racial and ethnic minority populations, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Browse the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog for publications and resources that explain the importance of spreading awareness, as well as how to avoid and help reduce mental health stigma, among minority communities. You can also check out resources from the Mental Health Coalition, which address mental health for the Black community specifically.
- Show respect for differences. As the great melting pot, one of our country’s greatest strengths is the ability to accommodate—and celebrate—cultures from around the world. But when cultures collide, it’s easy for misunderstandings to develop and drive wedges between us. This month, as you open yourself to the experiences of members within different minority groups when it comes to mental health, refrain from judging and instead foster a feeling of acceptance and openness. In many cultures—including American culture—stigma is a big part of the problem surrounding the open discussion of mental health, so we always want to tread carefully and respectfully. And if you don’t understand something, simply ask for clarification in a caring and thoughtful way, versus falling back on stereotypes or incomplete information to make uninformed assumptions.
- Steer the conversation in a positive direction. Mental health conversations no longer need to be fraught with despair and hopelessness. Today, there are so many options for treatment and recovery, and encouraging someone to seek help can turn an intimidating or awkward conversation into a message of hope. Mental health has long been taboo simply because those affected were relegated to the shadows, but these conversations are changing today to accommodate more open and optimistic viewpoints. Mental illness needn’t be a dire sentence—it’s an opportunity to commit to one’s health in a holistic way. Finally, don’t consider the conversation a “one and done”—follow up with the person, do your own research, and ask how you can provide ongoing support. Sometimes having someone to talk to about stigmatized topics can be the first, all-important step toward healing.
Mental Health Issues Affect Us All
By opening up discussions around mental health, we’re all winners—because the more these topics are brought into the light, the more comfortable we can all feel with sharing our struggles, whatever they may be. According to stats from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 21 percent of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020, equating to 52.9 million people, which represents 1 in 5 adults. These issues create ripple effects felt everywhere, touching everything from education and economy to substance abuse and suicide. In other words, we can’t afford, as a country, to ignore anyone’s mental health concerns, and the importance of community in the healing process cannot be overstated.
Here’s a final salient point: Minorities in the United States won’t be in the minority for much longer. The American Psychiatric Association reports the U.S. Census stat that, by 2044, more than half of all Americans are projected to belong to a minority group (any group other than non-Hispanic White alone). Thus, “minority” mental health is far from a niche concern—it truly reflects the mental health of Americans as a whole.
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If you’re struggling with mental health issues and need professional help, Amen Clinics is here for you. We offer in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy for adults, children, and couples. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.