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Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is celebrated annually in July. Representative Albert Wynn established the month in 2008 in a bipartisan decision, naming it after Bebe Moore Campbell. She was an American writer, journalist and teacher. She researched the profound impacts of racism on the mental health of Black and African American people. She wrote two books, was the co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and was a consultant for NPR. She advocated tirelessly for minority mental health awareness and worked to bring attention to necessary systemic changes. She passed away in 2006 when she was 56 years old.

Studies have found major discrepancies in therapeutic services for minority populations including Black Americans, American Indian individuals, Hispanic and Latino individuals and Asian Americans. These discrepancies have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, though there appears to be some improvement. Some of the barriers to accessing services include high cost, challenges with insurance coverage, difficulty finding a clinician of one’s own racial group, cultural stigma and previous negative experiences with therapists. These barriers to accessing services, understandably, make is difficult for minority individuals to be motivated to seek services.

In order to break these barriers to services, many things must happen. As Bebe Moore Campbell knew and advocated, there are many systemic changes that must occur. We can’t get into all that needs to happen here.

Instead, let’s discuss how barriers impact minority communities. The obvious being that there are many individuals who are not treated for their mental health illnesses. This has been proven to lead to an increase in individuals who file for and have disability because of a mental health illness. There are also more deaths in minority communities because of lack of access and care. Minority individuals are also often misdiagnosed when they do seek services, which can lead to a number of consequences and difficulties. Research has shown that individuals who identify as two races are more likely to report experiencing a mental health illness and crisis. There are also more minorities in the criminal justice system, where many of the individuals have mental health illnesses, diagnosed or not.

Here are more statistics, organized by racial group:

Black and African Americans:

  • 27% live below the poverty line

  • Higher death rate for individuals with physical illness or disability

  • 1 in 3 individuals are able to have services, despite having a diagnosis

  • Higher rates of inpatient care

  • Less frequently included in research on mental health

  • More likely to seek services in an emergency room or primary care as opposed to specialized mental health treatment

American Indians and Alaska Natives:

  • Highest poverty rate of any racial group

  • Children have highest reported rate of major depression symptoms

  • Children often report early drug and substance use

Hispanic and Latino individuals:

  • US-born individuals typically have higher rates for disorders than individuals who immigrated

  • 1 in 10 individuals with a mental health disorder use services from general provider as opposed to a specialized mental health provider

  • Highest racial group with reported poor communication with provider

  • 21% of reported individuals are uninsured

Asian Americans:

  • Many individuals are diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Highest rate of reported suicidal ideation in ages 15-24

  • Large "model minority" stereotyping

  • Increased violence and stereotyping from the COVID-19 pandemic

All of these statistics indicate the discrepancies in the care offered to and received by minority communities. While there are many changes that need to occur, it is also important to raise awareness and have conversations about the needs of minority individuals. These conversations must also happen within therapy rooms, and I welcome them. I hope to provide support for all individuals in the most competent and culturally respectful way. If you, or someone you know, would like to have resources for minority communities, here are additional resources:

I (Gillian) am the owner of Tavernier Therapy Group. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Provider and a Certified Sex Offender Treatment Provider. I work with teenagers who struggle to connect with their parents and am currently accepting clients! Take a look around my website and get to know me. I look forward to hearing from you!


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