Minority Mental Health Matters!

One in five adults and one in 10 children will experience a mental health challenge sometime this year. For individuals of racial and ethnic minority groups and those in marginalized communities, common mental health challenges can become urgent needs as a result of societal oppressions – these include insufficient access to resources and services, poor-quality services, the stigma surrounding mental illness, and a poor understanding among mental health treatment professionals on how one’s culture impacts their mental health.

        Bebe Moore Campbell

In order to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities, in 2008, the U.S. Congress designated July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.  Ms. Moore Campbell (1950-2006) was a celebrated African American author and mental health advocate who was a founding member of NAMI Urban Los Angeles. Ms. Moore Campbell’s works included her 2003 children’s book Sometimes Mommy Gets Angry, about how a little girl copes with her mother’s mental illness. The book won NAMI’s 2003 Outstanding Literature Award.

You may ask why we need Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.  Research and data demonstrate that people from racial/ethnic minority groups are less likely to receive mental health care. For example, in 2015, among adults with any mental illness, 48% of whites received mental health services, compared with 31% of African Americans and Latinx, and 22% of Asians.  There are complex reasons for this, including the cost and availability of services, lack of health insurance, the perceived stigma of mental illness in some cultural communities, and other factors.

Some facts:

  • One in five adults, and one in 10 children, will experience a mental health challenge sometime this year. For individuals of racial and ethnic minority groups and those in marginalized communities, common mental health challenges can become urgent needs as a result of societal oppressions – these include insufficient access to resources and services, poor-quality services, and the stigma surrounding mental illness.
  • The stigma surrounding mental illness discourages people of all cultures from seeking help. Attitudes toward mental illness held by racial and ethnic minorities are as unfavorable, or even more unfavorable, than attitudes held by whites.
  • Racism and discrimination adversely affect the health and mental health of those who experience them. They place members of racial, ethnic and cultural minority groups at risk for mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. Service providers’ cultural bias and stereotyping of people from different backgrounds impact people’s desire to seek treatment.
  • The cultures of racial and ethnic minorities can impact the types of mental health services they use.  Cultural misunderstandings or communication problems between people seeking treatment and service providers may prevent cultural minorities from using services and receiving appropriate care.

To learn more, check out these mental health fact sheets, courtesy of the American Psychiatric Association.

Mental Health Facts for Diverse Populations

Mental Health Facts for African Americans

Mental Health Facts for Hispanics/Latinx

Mental Health Facts for LGBTQ+ Individuals

Mental Health Facts for Women