HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s different than May’s Mental Health Awareness Month as it focuses on the unique struggles that racial and sexual minority groups face.
Minorities in the United States are 20% more likely to experience mental health problems, according to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.
Minority Mental Health Awareness was created by author and mental health advocate, Bebe Moore Campbell. Campbell says she struggled to get the care her daughter, who had a mental illness, that she needed. This is a problem commonly felt by minorities in America.
“One of the barriers to care for those of minorities is that we often feel like we don’t have access to proper care or that maybe care providers aren’t culturally competent with us, they don’t know our experiences, they don’t look like us,” licensed social worker, Cassidy Dear, told News 19.
Data shows about 25% of minority Americans seek mental health care compared to 40% of caucasian Americans.
Dear told News 19 it’s also important to recognize how mental health impacts people differently.
“Mental health is not a you do or you don’t,” Dear explained. “Mental health is a spectrum, so one day I may present as well then life may throw a tragedy or a trauma or an experience at me where my coping skills and the things I usually depend on for my wellness are not there.”
When it came to the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the World Health Organization reported a 25% increase in mental health illnesses, Dear said some minorities were actually more willing to reach out for help.
“COVID-19 was no respecter of your race or your gender or where you came from. What COVID has allowed us to do is it allowed me to say, ‘I’m struggling, I’m overwhelmed. Having to social distance and seclude myself is taking a toll on my mental wellness.’ I think it allowed us to say ‘me too’ and finally be heard.”
Dear added that even after the pandemic passes she hopes more minorities will continue to seek help if needed.