Happy minority mental health awareness month!
What is Mental Health and Why is it Important?
Mental health is part of our overall health. If your mental health isn’t doing great, it can contribute to your overall health and of course physical health. Mental health problems can cause changes in mood, thoughts and feelings of a person.
If mental health conditions are left untreated, they can lead to many dire consequences and can impact different aspects in our life like family, relationships, academics and more. They may also worsen other medical problems and lead to a worsen physical health and immune system. Studies have shown that 1 in every 5 adults in the US experiences a mental health condition and 1 in every 5 children / teenagers have or will have a serious mental health condition.
What is Minority Mental Health and Why is it Important?
In minority communities, especially BIPOC communities, mental health is often considered as a taboo or weakness, so members of these communities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment if they suffer from a mental illness. They also have less access to mental health services and often they receive a poor quality of mental health care as well!
This is why minority mental health awareness is important, since it will allow for the stigma against mental illness to be slowly removed, and hopefully less privileged communities can have access to mental health services as well, since mental health is as important as physical health.
History of Minority Mental Health Month
Minority mental health month is also known as BIPOC Mental health month. It was created back in June 2008 to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regards to mental illness in the US. The month hopes to encourage acceptance and more people to normalise these concepts. Most importantly, it hopes to reduce the idea of people not being allowed to talk about their struggles and instead it helps people open up honestly about their mental health struggles and challenges, knowing that there will not be any judgments!
According to SAMHSA:
Over 70% of Black/African American adolescents with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment for their condition.
Almost 25% of adolescents with a major depressive episode in the last year were Hispanic/Latino.
Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic groups.
In the past year, nearly 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Native young adults had serious thoughts of suicide.
In the past year, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults had a diagnosable mental illness.
Racial Disparities in Mental Health Care
It was reported that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental health can lead to serious outcomes like suicidal thoughts etc. So we should start educating young children on how important mental health is and just because you are mentally sick, does not mean you are WEAK- in fact, seeking help is such a taboo topic in this day and age, that coming out about mental illness is actually a very strong thing to do.
2021 Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
This year’s theme is “Strength in Communities”, where they will be highlighting alternative mental health support to the BIPOC community! It is meant to fill in the gap within the traditional system that overlooks the historical and cultural factors that impact BIPOC mental health, including systemic racism within the medical industry!
Researcher: Tiffany Ngai, Thumbnail: Bernice Lam, Writer, Editor + Text Transcription: Megan Kwok