July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month! Established in 2008, Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was created to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the United States and to start the process of improving access to mental health treatment and services and to promote public awareness of mental illness.
Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked tirelessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities.
Mental health doesn’t discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. Every year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition, but background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult.
Despite advances in health equity, disparities in mental health care persist. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental health care access and quality of care contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the CDC:
- In 2017, 10.5% (3.5 million) of young adults age 18 to 25 had serious thoughts of suicide including 8.3% of non-Hispanic blacks and 9.2% of Hispanics.
- In 2017, 7.5% (2.5 million) of young adults age 18 to 25 had a serious mental illness including 7.6% of non-Hispanic Asians, 5.7% of Hispanics and 4.6% of non-Hispanic blacks.
- Feelings of anxiety and other signs of stress may become more pronounced during a global pandemic.
- People in some racial and ethnic minority groups may respond more strongly to the stress of a pandemic or crisis.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, has started a campaign to help spread awareness. NAMI’s You Are Not Alone campaign features the lived experience of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspire others and educate the broader public. Now more than ever, the mental health community must come together and show that no one is ever really alone. The campaign builds connection and increases awareness with the digital tools that make connection possible during a climate of physical distancing. NAMI supports all diverse backgrounds, cultures and perspectives, reminding everyone that you are not alone.
Throughout the month of July, They will feature personal stories about how culture impacts mental health. Personal stories are brief, informal snapshots of lived experience, making them unique from pieces published on the NAMI Blog. By sharing stories of lived experience, they aim to highlight the importance of minority mental health and to make people feel less alone in their mental health journeys. You can submit your story at nami.org/yourstory.
Information for this blog was found at the following sites: