National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
It is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and we would love to continue our conversation regarding this topic. As you may recall, May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and we discussed mental health in the workplace. This month, we want to dive deeper and discuss why National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is important and how Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are affected in the workplace. First, here are some quick facts about National Minority Mental Health Month.
National Minority Mental Health Month was started by Bebe Moore Campbell, the co-founder of the National Alliance of Mental Illness Urban Los Angeles (NAMI). Campbell was an author, advocate, and national spokeswoman who pushed for mental health education and support among individuals from diverse communities.
In 2005, Campbell and her longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd worked together to outline the concept of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. They soon gained support from the D.C. Department of Mental Health and then-mayor Anthony Williams. They began holding news conferences in Southeast D.C. to encourage residents to get mental health checkups. Campbell and Wharton-Boyd also held book signings, spoke in churches, and formed a National Minority Mental Health Taskforce.
Campbell’s noteworthy and strong efforts would soon come to an end after being diagnosed with cancer. She served until she could no longer continue. Unfortunately, she died at the young age of 56 on November 27, 2006. She is remembered, and her work continued through Wharton-Boyd and through friends, family, and allies. In May 2008, with the help of Representatives Albert Wynn [D-MD] and Diane Watson [D-CA], the US House of Representatives announced July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
Why This Is Important
As we learned in May, 1 in 5 Americans ages 18 and older will experience some form of mental illness in a given year. This statistic is very alarming and disheartening, but what some are not aware of is that BIPOCs are less likely to have access to mental health resources. To make matters worse, there is also a lack of cultural competence in mental health treatments.
BIPOC mental health stats continue to rise, especially among the younger generation. According to Mental Health America, 17% of African Americans (6.8 million) live with a mental health illness, 23% of Indigenous and Natives (830,000), 15% of Hispanics (8.9 million), 13% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (2.2 million), and 25% of multiracial people.
These stats do not include the impact Covid-19 had on BIPOC communities. As some of you may be aware, Covid-19 disproportionately had a major impact on the BIPOC communities.
Why BIPOCs Are More Likely to Struggle With Their Mental Health
This is not a straightforward answer, but many problems BIPOC face are due to racism. Imagine living a life where you are judged, harassed, treated differently, and threatened because of the color of your skin. That alone, I would imagine, is a lot to bear, but it does not stop there. The impact racism has on BIPOC lives affects their schooling, getting a decent paying job, receiving adequate health care, and more. And when BIPOCs finally get the courage to seek mental health therapy, they are less likely to get the proper help.
Did you know that physicians are 23% more verbally dominant when speaking with Black patients and use 33% less patient-centered language than when treating white patients? The BIPOC community is less likely to seek mental healthcare, and they are more likely to have their mental health care end prematurely. Other barriers include not having health insurance or finances for affordable care, encountering language barriers, experiencing racial biases by healthcare providers, and more.
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was created for this very reason. The National Alliance of Mental Health’s two main goals are:
- Improve access to mental health treatment and services and promote public awareness of mental illness
- Use Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities
So How Can We Support?
- Of course, we can start by educating ourselves about this overwhelming issue. We will share some more resources later this month.
- We can support organizations such as NAMI through our financial giving and or volunteering.
- Most importantly, we can be kind and caring to one another through our actions and words. It costs nothing to smile, listen, and try to understand the plight of others’ pain.
Happy Minority Mental Health Awareness Month from Guide to HR.