Minority Mental Health Awareness Month comes each July, and it is a time to reflect on the challenges that minority groups face when dealing with mental health issues. Often, minority groups face challenges that block them from receiving the mental health care treatment they need. Left unchecked by clinicians, many mental health issues only worsen over time, and individuals often need proper clinical interventions to overcome their struggles with mental health.
In this article, we participate in Minority Mental Health Awareness Month by discussing serious challenges that minority groups face to accessing mental health treatment. Additionally, we discuss how a person can engage in Minority Mental Health Month and support individuals who are struggling with mental health issues right now.
What challenges do minority groups face when dealing with mental health issues?
Facing mental health issues can be an all-consuming task on its own. When a person struggles with mental health, they are often not able to help themselves. Additionally, a person's workplace, home situation, and relationships may not provide an environment that is conducive to healing. Unfortunately, members of minority groups have to deal with more than just their challenging medical conditions when facing mental health problems. They also have to deal with complex issues rooted in racism, immigration policy, and cultural differences.
One issue that minority groups face is finding adequate mental health care. Often, minority groups may reside in areas with underfunded health systems, and mental health care services are either underdeveloped or entirely non-existent. Additionally, members of minority groups may have trouble finding treatment options that work for them, particularly regarding language barriers. Older populations of Hispanic communities who primarily speak Spanish may experience difficulties finding a Spanish-speaking mental health care provider.
When mental health care options do exist, members of minority communities may be unable to pay for treatment. Often, health insurance is not as widespread among minority groups as it is across the general population. Relatedly, some minority groups are more likely to experience poverty. For example, studies find that Native Americans are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than members of the general population. When individuals do not have health insurance and cannot afford private pay options, their mental health issues typically worsen without adequate treatment.
Further, even when treatment programs are available and individuals can pay for treatment, members of minority groups often face intense stigmas surrounding mental health issues. Among Asian American communities, mental health issues are often taboo. Instead of sharing one's mental health experiences with others and seeking treatment, some Asian Americans may maintain silence. This occurrence is particularly the case surrounding issues of depression and suicide, which, unfortunately, a person does not help by keeping silent.
Relatedly, African American journalist, author, and mental health advocate Bebe Moore Campbell notes the stigmas surrounding mental health in the Black and African American communities. She states, "While everyone - all colors - everyone is affected by stigma - no one wants to say 'I'm not in control of my mind.' No one wants to say, 'The person I love is not in control of [their] mind.' But people of color really don't want to say it because we already feel stigmatized by virtue of skin color or eye shape or accent and we don't want any more reasons for anyone to say, 'You're not good enough.'" While one can understand the unfortunate origins of the stigma, the presence of the stigma and its impact on access to mental health treatment is nonetheless harmful to Black and African communities.
How to get involved in Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
All people - members of a minority group or not - are welcome to participate in Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. People can participate virtually, and they can engage while adhering to recent social distancing guidelines.
One way to get involved is by sharing a story of your own lived experiences struggling with mental health issues. You can share your story online via the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Personal Stories campaign. When members of minority groups who struggle with mental health read your story, they may find support and comfort in knowing that another person recovered from a similar experience.
Another way to get involved is through NAMI's You Are Not Alone campaign. Through the campaign, you can share pre-made social media posts on minority mental health. Each post serves as a reminder to individuals who struggle with mental illness that they do not have to battle a mental health diagnosis by themselves.
How can Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital help
Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital proudly serves the behavioral health and mental health needs of the greater Houston, Texas, community. We offer inpatient mental health programs and outpatient mental health treatment options, including partial hospitalization programs. We understand the unique challenges that minorities face when dealing with mental health conditions, and our caring team works hard to provide an inclusive and culturally competent environment for everyone.
To get started at Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, call our hotline anytime at (877) 489-4707. We can schedule you or your loved one for a free mental health assessment to determine if Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital is the right choice.