The History of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month & How to Raise Awareness

Did you know? Those in ethnic and cultural communities are less likely to receive necessary mental health services with factors that may come from socio-economic differences and discrimination based on one’s race and mental health condition. This is why the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) has provided meaningful tools, resources, and E-learning courses to address the stigma about mental health among racial and ethnic minority populations.

The National Minority Mental Health Awareness movement was founded out of a profound and personal experience. Bebe Moore Campbell, the movement’s founder, is an African American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate.[1] Campbell worked endlessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities.[2] She struggled to support her daughter, who battled with mental illness and a system that prevented her daughter from getting help and support.[3]

As an advocate, Campbell created a safe space for Black people to talk about mental health concerns and founded NAMI. Campbell made her way to DC, and on June 2, 2008, Congress formally recognized Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the US.[4]

Making sure that individuals have access to mental healthcare can improve lives and communities. For many, it can dramatically reduce or eliminate the risk of suicide, legal issues, family conflict, employment issues, substance abuse and further mental and physical health problems.

The pandemic highlighted the discrepancies in access to mental health care in particular.  In this case, access to Health Care was at just 9.8% for non-Hispanic black adults aged 18 and over who received mental health services compared to non-Hispanic black individuals. Asian-Americans were shown lower at 7%. Moreover, the CDC sourced 9.7% of adult Hispanics who received mental health services, while American Indian/ Alaska Natives showed a higher rate at 13.9% access to health care.[5] Among adults with diagnosis-based need for mental health, 37.6% of whites receive treatment. [6]

 

Here are simple things you can do to raise awareness:

  • Share resources designed for people from diverse communities around family and friends.
  • Wear a lime green ribbon wherever you go and let others know the facts about mental health and how it impacts your community.
  • Take a pledge and help inspire positive conversations about mental health in your organization or community.

 

 

 

[1] https://mhanational.org/bebemoorecampbell

[2] https://mhanational.org/bebemoorecampbell

[3] https://naswcanews.org/nasw-ca-presents-black-history-month-social-worker-highlight-series-part-2/

[4] https://www.mhanational.org/black-pioneers-mental-health

[5] https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2019-nsduh-detailed-tables

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3928067/