July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
The reasons why are complex, but minorities often face poorer mental and behavioral health outcomes than those within majority communities, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. That, coupled with the pandemic that has disproportionately affected minority communities and exacerbated mental health issues for so many, makes this year’s National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month particularly significant.
While some older statistics suggest minorities have similar or sometimes even lower than average mental health issues than other populations, these numbers might not accurately reflect the bigger picture. For instance, mental health issues might be underreported because mental healthcare might not be as accessible in these communities. That means certain mental health conditions are often underdiagnosed and not properly treated. In fact, the Office of Minority Health finds “Black Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.” When any health condition isn’t properly treated, the outcomes only get worse, and mental health conditions are no exception.
The purpose of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is twofold: first, it’s important to work to make mental healthcare more accessible to minority communities, and second, it’s important to continue to work to help end the stigma associated with mental health and receiving life changing, and sometimes even lifesaving, care.
Mental health resources for minority communities
- The Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM) is an organization whose mission is to remove the barriers Black people experience getting access to or staying connected with emotional health care and healing through education, training, advocacy and the creative arts. Its website contains information your patients might find helpful including resources dedicated to navigating a new diagnosis, medication, seeking and funding therapy and more. It also has the phone numbers for 24-hour inclusive crisis hotlines and a Black virtual wellness directory.
- Therapy for Latinx helps connect members of the Hispanic or Latinx communities with therapists who are also members of and understand the unique struggles members of their community face. The site allows you to search by both keyword and location and also contains crisis hotline information and mental health screenings that might help your patients determine whether it’s time to seek help.
- Asian Mental Health Collective’s mission is to normalize and de-stigmatize mental health within the Asian community. Its website includes resources explaining the unique struggles Asian populations face when it comes to the stigma associated with mental health and intergenerational trauma. It also connects users with hotlines and therapists.
- We R Native is unique in that it is a resource for Native youth, by Native youth. Its comprehensive website’s “my mind” category helps Native youth navigate different mental health challenges and also connects them with help specific to the issues they’re facing. This resource is particularly important, as the pandemic has disproportionately affected mental health of younger communities.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a page on its website dedicated to the mental health of the LGBTQI community. The site details risk factors of LGBTQI mental health, details steps for finding the right mental health professional and connects users with other resources.
Resources for allies
Being an ally to minorities means advocating for minority mental health and minority access to mental healthcare.
This article suggests ways allies can help support Black Americans’ mental health specifically, but the general advice it provides can be applied by allies to any minority community in need of improved access to mental healthcare. Suggestions include providing a safe space to listen to feelings, emotions and concerns members of these communities are experiencing, supporting minority mental health organizations either financially or through volunteer hours, joining diversity and inclusion groups to continue to learn about the unique struggles minority communities face and becoming informed about pending mental health legislation and how it will affect minority communities.
Much like other issues affecting minority populations, a true solution for minority mental health will require deep structural and institutional reform. However, there are steps each of us can take right now to help members of these communities in need and pave the way for broader change.