July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. In a time when racial equity is the focus of many discussions, one thing is certain: Mental health conditions are color blind. Anyone, of any ethnicity, can experience the challenges of mental illness. What is inequitable, however, is access to mental health treatment.
Every July, Minority Mental Health Awareness focuses on the mental health struggles that are unique to people of color. Examples include getting therapy for an undocumented child who has experienced trauma, obtaining a mental health diagnosis for a teen in an inner city, or intervening for a young adult who’s contemplating suicide because he or she feels stigmatized for living in a marginalized community.
Daniel H. Gillison Jr., CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) spoke in 2020, “The effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real and cannot be ignored. The disparity in access to mental health care in communities of color cannot be ignored. The inequality and lack of cultural competency in mental health treatment cannot be ignored.”
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has reported that “racial and ethnic minority groups in the US are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental health care access and quality of care contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.”
If your child or someone you love is struggling with depression or thinking about suicide, get help now. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is a free resource, available 24 hours a day for anyone who is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress to text use The Crisis Text Line: “Jason” to 741741 to speak with a trained Crisis Counselor.