July is Minority Mental Health Month. This is a month dedicated to raising awareness of the unique mental health challenges facing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities and improving access to mental health treatment and services.
The American Psychiatric Association (2017) stated that approximately 18% of US adults have a diagnosable mental disorder and an estimated 43% of people with any mental illness receive mental health treatment/counseling. In addition, individuals from racial/ethical minority groups are less likely to receive mental health care.
Opportunities for mental health assistance can be hindered by health care costs, language, location/transportation, mistrust and stigma. Related directly to the obstacle of stigma, we can all “take action”. Show support to your family, friends, neighbors and even strangers who may be struggling – educate yourself and start having purposeful conversations.
- Take time to learn. Access resources to learn more about different cultures and how they are impacted by mental health and substance use challenges.
- Respect the person’s culture. When you are talking or listening to someone of a different culture, show an attitude of acceptance and respect the person’s feelings, culture, personal values and experiences, even if they are different from your own or you disagree with them. Do not judge, criticize or trivialize what the person says.
- Ask questions. It’s OK if you have questions or don’t understand something. Instead of making assumptions, respectfully ask questions that show you genuinely care and want to understand.
- Focus on recovery and well-being. Conversations about mental illness are shifting away from an emphasis on describing only the “illness” or “deficit.” It is more common now to hear people talk about well-being and recovery. When interacting with someone who may be struggling with a mental health challenge, focus on well-being and encourage them to pursue their own journey to recovery within their cultural practices. (Source | https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org)
Access additional resources and learn of other ways to participate in Minority Mental Health Month on the American Counseling Association website.