Mental illness is common in the US with around one in five people living with a mental illness. This was around 52 million people in 2020 and poor mental health does not discriminate. Anyone can experience mental illness but not everyone can access the support or care they need to improve their wellbeing and recovery.
While the mainstream population has access to a range of quality services, it is not the same for minority groups. This can be because of the cultural stigma of mental health, lack of awareness, discrimination, and inaccessibility of high quality care and support. When they do have access, the care they receive can be of a lesser quality.
To raise awareness of the disparities, July of every year is Minority Mental Health Awareness.
Author, advocate, and co-founder of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, Urban Los Angeles, Bebe Moore Campbell, actively campaigned to improve mental health services and education in minority communities. It began as her daughter struggled with mental illness in a system that denied her the support she needed to improve her wellbeing. Along with a friend, Linda Wharton-Boyd, they made the decision it was time the stigma that comes with mental health ended and that access to mental health services should be for everyone. It was Wharton-Boyd’s suggestion to dedicate a month to raising awareness about mental health for minority communities.
People embraced the concept. Campbell and Wharton-Boyd formed the National Minority Mental Health Taskforce. It brought together friends, families, healthcare workers, and allies working for a common cause. It all stopped when Campbell received a cancer diagnosis and soon lost her life in 2005. But advocates of a month dedicated to minority mental health and Wharton-Boyd decided to not allow Campbell’s work be in vain. They worked hard to receive support and legislation creating an official National Minority Mental Health Awareness month was signed in 2006. Now minority groups have a dedicated safe space to discuss mental illness and their unique struggles.
The theme for Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in 2022 is ‘Together for mental health’. It is a time to join the voices of minority groups to advocate for better care. Together everyone can share the vision of mental wellbeing regardless of belonging to a minority group. Everyone deserves the care and support they need to live happy, healthy lives.
During the month of July, the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) will share stories about the impact of culture on mental health. NAMI encourages you to get involved. Share your story. If you do not have a story to share, listen to someone else’s story and share resources.
You do not have to go through it alone. Get involved during July to help raise awareness of the inequities minority groups face. Join together to help everyone get the care they need to recover so they too can reach for their dreams.