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Minority Mental Health Awareness

Information gathered from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health

“Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans…It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.”

–Bebe Moore Campbell, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and inspiration for National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (2005)

The Beginning

In May of 2008, the month of July was designated by the U.S. House of Representatives as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in an effort to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities as well as improve minority accessibility to mental health resources and treatments.

Why is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month Important?

Mental illness does not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans will experience the harmful effects of mental illness at some point in their lives. In communities with lower access to mental healthcare, poor quality mental healthcare, and increased cultural stigmatization of mental illness, coping with a mental illness can prove to be an even greater challenge. Poor mental health care access and quality 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):

  • Over 70% of Black/African American adolescents with a major depressive episode 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

Public awareness of mental health is necessary for reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness in minority communities and for increasing minority access to high-quality, affordable mental healthcare.

How to Get Involved

#CureStigma is a campaign created by NAMI to develop public understanding about mental health and mental illness through awareness, support and advocacy activities. You can help start a discussion about minority mental health in your community by sharing information, images and graphics for #MinorityMentalHealth throughout July.

If you’re looking for a more hands-on way to get involved, check out this awesome article by Laura Greenstein https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/July-2017/Getting-Involved-with-Minority-Mental-Health

We are better when we work together. As a community, it’s our responsibility to address shortcomings and inequalities wherever they are, especially when it comes to mental health and mental healthcare. #MinorityMentalHealthMatters