In May 2008, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) established July as “National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.” The purpose of this was two-fold: to raise public awareness of mental health among minorities and make mental health services more accessible to racial and ethnic minority groups.
Although July is nearly over, awareness of mental health in minority populations should be a year-round priority. The US Department of Health and Human Services reports that individuals in these minority groups not only have less access to mental health support but they are also less likely to use community mental health services. Reasons for this include:
- not having health insurance or adequate coverage
- increased stigma about mental health
- internalized belief that treatment will not help
Added to this is the fact that people in marginalized communities often receiver lower quality of care due to a number of factors, including:
- language barriers
- insufficient cultural competence on behalf of treatment providers
- racism and discrimination in treatment settings
Not seeking mental health treatment serves to exacerbate pre-existing issues, leading to a variety of emotional problems and even increased rates of suicide. Fortunately, there are many mental health organizations who recognize this epidemic and are dedicated to providing support and resources to individuals in a variety of different ethnic groups, including Black, Latino and Indigenous Peoples. You can view some of those resources by clicking here, or by making an appointment of your own with a mental health professional.
Carolyn Moriarty, LPC