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National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Each year during the month of July, National Minority Mental Health Awareness month is observed to bring awareness to the struggles that racial and ethnic minorities face regarding mental health in the US. 

Mental health issues are common, and more than 1 in 5 US adults live with a mental illness. Although mental health issues are often treatable, people in minority groups often do not have the resources to combat mental illness. Observance during this month raises awareness for the challenges that affect the mental health of minority groups. 

Obstacles to Mental Health for Minority Groups 

Minority groups with mental health problems have to overcome not only their mental health struggles, but also the challenges that attempt to improve mental health. 

Poverty limits access to adequate health care, and this both leads and causes stress. Poor areas with a large minority population often lack the resources to maintain proper mental health. The lack of services decreases access to mental health treatment and exacerbates mental health problems for minority populations. 

Lack of access to healthcare is a major reason that many minority groups are not treated for mental health problems. This can be due to cost or not having adequate health care coverage. It may also be hard to find providers from one’s own ethnic group, as stigma surrounding mental health may prevent one from seeking support. 

Racial trauma, or the mental or emotional injury of experiencing or watching racial violence or discrimination, induces stress and often impacts mental health. In some instances, individuals who have experienced racial trauma often develop symptoms like those experienced with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This can manifest as depression, insomnia, low self-esteem, and anger. 

Lack of cultural understanding by health care providers may lead to underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis. Some of these factors include: language barriers, stigma of mental health among minority groups, and cultural presentation of symptoms

How can we prioritize minority mental health? 

We must promote conversations and connections among communities to build alliances to support the mental health of minority groups. Making mental health educational materials available to everyone not only brings awareness to the disparities that minority groups endure, but it can help educate minority groups about how and when to seek support or treatment. 

Recruiting healthcare providers from all backgrounds is essential for the promotion of better mental health. Receiving treatment and support from one’s same ethnic group can be extremely crucial, as this can help the healthcare team communicate more effectively and understand a patient’s culture better.  

Ensuring mental health care services are culturally and linguistically appropriate for all members of ethnic and minority groups is essential for the improvement of mental health. We must ensure that all members of society are protected and supported, and this is important to remember not only during the month of July, but every day of the year.

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