Written by Lyndsey Ellis
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to recognize and spread the word on mental health challenges faced by people of all cultures, races, and ethnicities. Too often, those who identify as minorities (ie people of color, women, LGBTQ community, physically disabled individuals, etc) are silenced and prevented from getting the attention and treatment they need to thrive in spite of their differences. PEERS, along with several partners and mental health-focused organizations, works to provide inclusive, safe spaces where all are welcome and validated.
Honoring Bebe Moore Campbell’s Legacy
In May 2008, the US House of Representatives declared July, Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Campbell, a prolific author and educator, shed light on mental health issues primarily impacting communities of color until her death in 2006. Heralded as a national spokesperson, Campbell’s work can be found in several anthologies, magazines, libraries, bookstores, and educational institutions. She helped pave the way for other minorities to be vocal about mental health and use vehicles, like the arts, to address such a serious issue.
Mental Health: No Longer A ‘Dirty’ Secret
Being a Black female who was raised in the Midwest and ‘adulted’ in California, I’ve heard my share of sayings that alienate and demonize those with mental health challenges. One assumption that stands out is most Black folks don’t need therapy because we have churches to attend.
Let me be clear. I have no problem with faith-based communities. I was raised Baptist and although I’m no longer a member of my childhood church, I’ve made the choice to use spirituality to guide me in my personal journey. That said, I believe everyone should make their own choice regarding their beliefs and sensitive issues like mental health treatment.
As much as minorities are denied adequate resources by outside sources, the irony is that we’re also often negatively affected by internal stigma meant to silence us and keep us from living our best selves. It’s important to realize no one is immune to a mental health challenge.
For more general information, or to learn how you can get involved, check out these resources:
• People of Color, Ignore the Stigma and Get Therapy (TalkSpace)
• People of Color Deal with Mental Illness, Too (Huffington Post)
• The 3 Things Minority Women Need NOW for Mental Health (Refinery 29)
• PRIDE in Mental Health: Visibility (Psychology Today)
• Latino/Hispanic Communities and Mental Health (Mental Health America)