Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background. However, background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult. National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was established in 2008 to start changing this.
Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition.
Taking on the challenges of mental health conditions, health coverage and the stigma of mental illness requires all of us. In many communities, these problems are increased by less access to care, cultural stigma and lower quality care.
As an individual or caregiver, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself or the needs of your loved one. While it’s not always possible, finding the right provider is essential to ensure the dimensions of culture and language do not get in the way of healing or recovery. Instead, those shared community values and experiences, along with dimensions of faith and spirituality, resiliency, key relationships, family bonds and pride in where you came from — your culture — becomes a source of strength and support.
How to promote a culture of equity and inclusion in mental health
Be an advocate when there is an opportunity to speak out on behalf of mental health for underrepresented groups and communities.
Share information you’ve learned about what forms quality care from a cultural and equity lens.
Show compassion and seek to understand the experience of individuals with identities different from your own.
Do not assume that a low treatment rates by members of a cultural or social group is due to a lack of effort in seeking care. Instead, consider any underlying challenges — individuals are less likely to seek help or engage in treatment if they cannot find a provider they can trust, who understands their identity and will treat them with dignity and respect.
Advocate for Change
Write, call or talk to legislators — both local and federal — to support efforts to:
Improve access to and the quality of mental health services for those who are underserved.
Ensure providers are trained on cultural competence.
Make linguistic services (interpretation and translation) available in treatment settings.
Provide mental health services that are holistic and offer many modalities of care (inclusive of trauma-informed care, psychiatry, psychology, faith-based care, community-based care and low cost alternatives to care).
Resources for BIPOC
Sista Afya in Chicago IL provides mental wellness education, resource connection and community support for black women.
Inclusive Therapists has a director of clinicians for all identities.
Melanin and Mental Health connects individuals with culturally competent clinicians committed to serving the mental health needs of Black/Latinx/Hispanic communities.
BEAM (Black Emotional and Mental Health) Collective helps remove the barriers that Black people experience getting access to or staying connected with emotional health care and healing. They do this through education, training, advocacy, and creative arts.
POC Online Classroom provides readings on the importance of self care, mental health care, and healing for people of color and within activist movements.
The Steve Fund is focused on supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color.
Therapy for LatinX is focused on helping LatinX individuals and families find mental health resources for therapy, emergency mental health centers, life coaches, and free/no cost community mental health clinics.
The Focus on You is an inspirational blog run by a Latina therapist in which she talks about mental health, self care, and more.
Read: Racial Battle Fatigue is an article that dives into what it is, what causes it, and more.
Read: Coping with Traumatic Stress is an article that breaks down the symptoms, coping strategies, and other related topics.
Read: Coping with Anticipatory Grief is an article that talks about the emotions surrounding anticipatory grief, what you should do about it, and how to heal.
Learn: Here are Spanish language materials related to mental health.
Read: Breaking the Stigma Within my Culture is a blog post on NAMI's website that explores Sammy Sucu's history with mental health and what he is doing about it now.
Resources that Help all of us Take Action
Read: This article helps practitioners learn how to better assist BIPOC patients and create more equitable treatment.
Teaching your child: 20 Picture Books for 2020: Readings to Embrace Race, Provide Solace & Do Good
Read: The book "How to be Antiracist"by Ibram X. Kendi
Watch: NAMI's 90 minute presentation on Speaking with Latinos about Mental Health.
Read: The book "The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century" Foreword by Danny Glover and Afterword with Immanuel Wallerstein
Read: The book "Heavy: An American Memoir" by Kiese Laymon
Listen: to the podcast "Code Switch" by NPR. The podcast is hosted by journalists of color, and they tackle the subject of race head-on. They explore how race impacts every part of society, and they include everyone to join in on the conversation.
Read: The article "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh. The article explores the privileges that non BIPOC get to have while living in our world that is still filled with racial discrimination.
Watch: The documentary 13th to gain insight to the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. It is available on Netflix.
Organizations to Follow
Equal Justice Initiative
The Color of Change
Audre Lorde Project
United We Dream
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Showing up for Racial Justice
These lists are by no means complete. Please reach out to us if you would like assistance in locating more resources related to this topic by emailing email@example.com