July is more than just beach days and barbecues—it’s Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This month was dedicated to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face and the disparity in mental health care. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), racial and ethnic minority populations are less likely to have access to mental health services.
Normally when we hear “minority”, we usually think about Black/African Americans, Native and Indigenous, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Latinx/Hispanic and multiracial communities. It is much more than that—it includes those from the LGBTQ+ community, refugee and immigrant groups, and those with ranging ability status. These populations suffer in silence because a lot of them don’t have access to health care, let alone mental health resources.
Last months’ unrest and continued battle for racial equality shines a light on the disparities in aid for these underserved populations. Not only that, but June was LGBTQ+ Pride month which celebrates and honors the 1969 Stonewall riots. In unison, these two movements have come together to teach us about privilege. Privilege plays a huge role in the way we perceive the world around us and how we chose to advocate for the underserved.
June has taught us so many lessons and brought so much to our awareness, but now that it is July, it’s time to act. Here are a few ways NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) suggests you can help advocate for more inclusive mental health care:
- Encourage mental health organizations to include minorities on staff or boards of directors.
- Write, call or talk to legislators—both local and federal—to support efforts to improve access to and the quality of mental health services in your area.
- Be a spokesperson when there is an opportunity to speak out on behalf of minority mental health.
- Share information you’ve learned about accessing quality care to others.
- Try to be more open and understanding towards what minority communities might be experiencing that you might not.
To read more about the disparities within minority mental health care: https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/July-2017/Disparities-Within-Minority-Mental-Health-Care
By: Hilary Paredes, MHC InternShare