Mental Health concerns all of us!
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness month since 2008 thanks to author, journalist and mental health advocate Bebe Moore Campbell.
Why is it important to pay special attention to “minority” mental health?
Here I’m using the word “minority” as a way to describe groups of people that have been systematically marginalized, like BIPOC (Black Indigenous and People of Color) and LGBTQ+, but also refugees and immigrants.
These groups of people are exposed to either racial, sexual and gender discrimination, violence, or poverty and hardships or both, which are serious mental health risk factors.
Furthermore, this society’s deep-rooted prejudice towards stigmatized people has caused major feelings of rejection, estrangement, and harassment amongst these groups.
However, getting the mental health support to manage these feelings is proving to be a challenge.
2 hurdles are in the way:
1- A lack of available professionals
According to data on mental health care professional shortages from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the vast majority of states have met less than 50% of mental health care needs among their populations. The data cites dire provider shortages and vast disparities across racial and ethnic groups.
2- and a lack of qualified professionals
An interesting article on the USC University of Southern California’s website, says:
“In high-risk areas, those who choose to seek treatment often receive inferior care because there tends to be little diversity among mental health providers. [There’s] a decreased understanding about the different mental health needs across minority groups. Even when language translation services are provided, lack of diversity breeds cultural insensitivities. [These insensitivities] lead to negative health outcomes, such as higher treatment dropout rates. Studies have shown that minorities are less satisfied with the quality of care they receive since they feel that providers simply do not understand their needs.”
A different perspective
“How does a child of undocumented status receive therapy after experiencing trauma?” asks an article in Clarity Clinic
Moreover, Jean-Philippe Regis shares his journey in that same article.
“From personal experiences as a first-generation, gay, Haitian-American cisgender male, all the intersections of my identities have impacted my journey with anxiety and depression. My experience with these conditions is not a character flaw or weakness–it is simply one of the rich layers of my identity. As an adolescent, acknowledging my own challenges with my mental health was not a part of my culture. It took research and discovering other people with journeys like mine to overcome the stigma and get help. Recovery is absolutely possible with proper treatment.”
The pandemic seems to have heightened disparities.
According to an American Staffing Association Survey, Black and Latino people reported disproportionately higher levels of financial- and work-related concerns, such as paying for rent/mortgage or losing a job, than white people during the pandemic.
Likewise, according to Pew Research, nearly one in three (32%) of Asian people feared they would be physically attacked because of who they are, given the rise in discrimination and violence against people of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.
So much so that when it comes to minority mental health, the term syndemic has been coined.
Syndemic means a confluence of two or more concurrent or sequential epidemics.
8 things you can do to manage your mental health
If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health, encourage yourself or them to:
- Seek a qualified professional, someone you can identify with and who understands your unique struggle.
- Seek multiple healing and supportive modalities and holistic practitioners
- Make social connection. Have a community you can reach out to.
- Stay active. Regular exercise/movement have a positive impact on your body and brain. And can affect the quality of your sleep.
- Take up a relaxation/meditation practice. Yoga, meditation (here’s a link to my recording of Yoga Nidra, a powerfully calming meditation), breathing techniques can decrease stress levels.
- Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet helps ensure a healthy gut bacteria which in turn affects mental health and well-being.
- Have enough sleep. Good sleep helps you feel energized when you wake up. Also, sleep is the time when we naturally release mental and emotional tension.
- Find purpose and meaning. It’s important to feel useful and meaningful.
You don’t have to struggle alone… reach out for help!