Minority Mental Health Month

Stress is something we all experience. I am pretty sure I am not alone in being able to think of a time when my stress levels were so high it was hard to stay focused at school, or on a project I was doing at work, or even having the energy to make a healthy meal for my family at home. While I must intentionally stop to think about times when I felt this way, individuals who experience consistently high levels of mental distress must try to stop to think about a time when they have not felt this way. Unfortunately, in many ethnic minority communities we often view mental distress as a personal weakness. When an event causes someone a visible difficulty, like breaking a bone, we do not question the necessity of receiving treatment from a doctor to aid in healing. However, when an incident or situation causes a difficulty that is not seen, like persistent sadness or worry, and at levels that that impair a person’s ability to care for themselves or their families children, we do not offer the same support or understanding when it comes to seeking a doctor’s services.

 

1 in 6 adults1 and 1 in 5 children2 in the United States experience mental distress, with less than 20% of children receiving treatment3. Mental health conditions significantly affect people of all ethnicities. However, ethnic minorities tend to have more barriers that keep us from getting accurate diagnoses and effective treatment.4

 

Ethnic minority communities are plagued with misunderstandings and stigma surrounding mental illness. This, combined with a culturally insensitive healthcare system, discourages many individuals from seeking and receiving help they desperately need.5 Too many of our brothers and sisters experience emotional distress at levels that impair their performance at work, school, and personally. July is Minority Mental Illness Awareness Month. Join us in educating our community and empowering those we know to obtain the mental health support they need. Together, we can reduce the healthcare gap, so every person from every ethnicity can thrive.

 

  1. National Alliance on Mental Illness (n.d.) Mental Health by the Numbers. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health (n.d.) Any Disorder Among Children. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  3. MentalHealth.gov (n.d.) Mental Health Myths and Facts. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  4. Physicians for a National Health Program. (2016, August 12). Black, Hispanic children, youth rarely get help for mental health problems: Minorities’ psychiatric, behavioral problems often result in school punishment or incarceration, but rarely mental health care, according to nationwide study. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  5. Barksdale, C.L., Kenyon, J., Graves, D.L. & Jacobs, C.G. (2014). Addressing Disparities in Mental Health Agencies: Strategies to Implement the National CLAS Standards in Mental Health. Psychological Services, 11(4), 369-376.

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