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Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted 07-31-2020

About National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. It was started in 2008 by Bebe Moore and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The event seeks to shine a light on the need for better mental health care in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and LGBTQ+ communities.

Why minorities aren't getting the mental health care they need

The reasons for this disparity in mental health care are many. Just a few of these include...

  • The stigma associated with mental health issues. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma in many minority communities surrounding mental health issues. Some people avoid the care they need because they don't want their neighbors, friends or employers to know about it. Only about 30 percent of African Americans who need mental health care receive it, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
  • Lack of insurance. Eleven percent of African Americans are uninsured or underinsured, according to KFF. For Hispanics, this number is 19 percent, and nearly one in four Native Americans are uninsured. This can make mental health care inaccessible.
  • Distrust of the health care system. Many in the BIPOC community have had less than perfect past experiences with the health care system in the United States and are hesitant to trust mental health professionals.
  • Lack of competent mental health professionals in culturally-diverse and minority neighborhoods. There are many more mental health professionals in predominantly-white neighborhoods than in minority neighborhoods.
  • Lack of informed mental health professionals. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “1 in 10 transgender adults report being pressured by mental health professionals to “stop being transgender.”

What you can do

1. Break the stigma. Share your and your family's experiences. Keeping mental health issues "behind closed doors" only fuels the stigma associated with this type of health care.

2. Write your congressmen and congresswomen. Keeping access to health insurance for minorities and low income Americans via the Affordable Care Act is essential to making quality health care available to all Americans. Make sure your representative to Congress knows where you stand on this important issue.

3. Encourage your friends and neighbors to seek help when they need it. Knowing they aren't alone will go a long way towards helping people seek the health care they need. Always know that you can reach out to PORT Health Services if you or a loved one is in need.

To learn more about National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, visit nami.org.