21 Jul Culture, Community & Connection: Minority Mental Health Month
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and CHRIS 180 is focusing on raising awareness surrounding the struggles that underrepresented and minority communities face with mental illness. There are many factors that can prevent minority groups from seeking help including language barriers, cost and lack of mental health education.
Minority groups include racial minorities, such as African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans as well as the LGBTQ+ community. Sadly, these groups are at higher risk for mental illness due to many environmental factors, trauma and stigma.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Blacks and Hispanics are not only more likely to experience severe and debilitating depression, but mental illness is also more likely to become chronic. Only 8% of Hispanics who do not speak English and need mental health services receive care. The suicide rate for Native Americans has increased nearly 20% since 2015, and is more than double that of white Americans. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals to experience a mental health condition.”
Rates of mental illness among Blacks are like that of other races, however, they receive therapy and medication services at lower rates. Studies also show that Blacks are misdiagnosed at higher rates than whites.
“I’ve worked in mental health for more than five years, and I’m open about my own personal mental health struggles. Talking about my own depression helps me connect with other black professionals who feel hesitant or embarrassed about seeking mental health help,” shared Erica Howard.
The 26-year-old went on to share, “I’ve also experienced difficulties finding treatment. It was hard finding a therapist that my insurance would cover. Many insurance companies don’t consider mental health treatment as medically necessary, which is a shame, because the out-of-pocket cost can be very high. After sharing my story, I was constantly being criticized and teased by my family and friends. There is a lot of shame and guilt around the topic of mental health in the Black community,” said Howard.
Since its founding in 1981, CHRIS 180 has been committed to destigmatizing mental health care for all communities, including racial and ethnic minorities. The organization continues to work to not only expand existing programs, but to implement new initiatives to provide effective and affordable treatment on a sliding fee scale to as many individuals as possible.
But what can you do to help? There are many ways to spread awareness and reduce mental health stigma.
- Normalize the conversation by sharing your stories and experiences. This can help bring comfort to those hesitant to seek treatment.
- Promote mental health equity by recognizing and respecting diversity within your community. Make the effort to learn, understand and support any cultural beliefs of the minority communities in your area.
- Take action to challenge any negative stereotypes against those seeking treatment. By standing up and making your stance as an ally for minority communities, you will help minimize stigma against mental health treatment.
Learn more about Minority Mental Health Month here.
Eman Haddad, DNP, APRN is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at CHRIS 180. To make an appointment with her, email CareTeam@CHRIS180.org