July marks National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. After being formally recognized in 2008, this month was designated to bring awareness to the challenges of underrepresented groups related to mental health. Specifically, Black, Indigenous People, and People of Color face unique struggles when it comes to mental health.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. About 1 in 5 adults in the United States experiences mental illness each year. Approximately 4% of adults have a mental illness that greatly interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
There are over 200 forms of mental illness. The most common include substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, and mood and personality disorders. The physical and emotional symptoms may cause a shift in thinking, mood, behavior, or even ability to function.
In July, during Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we turn our attention to the unique challenges faced by underrepresented groups related to mental health and wellness.
Addiction and mental health conditions do not discriminate based on gender, socioeconomic status, culture, color, or creed. However, background and societal identification can create barriers and unique struggles for some individuals trying to access resources and care. Cultural differences, exposure to trauma, and financial disparities can increase stigma and decrease quality of care for those with mental illness.
Recently, Mental Health America has broadened the term “minority” to embrace individuals from a diverse population of disenfranchised and underserved groups and communities, including:
► LGBTQ + persons
► Displaced families, immigrants, and refugee groups
► Various religious groups and cultures
► Men and women currently or previously incarcerated
► Homeless and housing insecure populations
► African American, Black, and Latino/a men, women, and children
It takes a village to strengthen communities on state and national levels. PFSA challenges all community members, educators, family care and service providers, and professionals to consider how each of us can be a part of the solution. By working together in a cross-systems approach, prioritizing ongoing professional development, and creating opportunities to educate your community, you can help break barriers and reduce negative perceptions about mental illness.
For more information on how to support loved ones, community members, and consumers, check out some of these expert resources:
► Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association 800-887-6422 pmhca.org
► Mental Health America 800-969-6642 nmha.org
► National Alliance on Mental Illness 800-950-6264 nami.org
► Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance 800-826-3632 dbsalliance.org
► Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania 866-578-3659 mhapa.org
► National Crisis Text Line Text “Home” to 741741 in the U.S.
Also available through PFSA is “Parenting with Hope & Health: Help for Parents with Mental Illness.” Call us at 800-448-4906 to order a copy or visit us online a pa-fsa.org.