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July 14, 2013
by Cindy Marie Hosszu

What Can You Do To Raise Awareness?

July 14, 2013 12:33 by Cindy Marie Hosszu

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental illness is the most common cause of disability, affecting one in four adults, and one in ten children in the United States, but minorities are less likely to receive care.  National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was created to raise awareness about mental illness in diverse communities and promote wellness and recovery.


  • African Americans living below the poverty level are 3 times more likely to report psychological distress compared to those who are over twice the poverty level. 
  • Suicide rates for African Americans between the ages of 10 and 14 increased 233% between 1980 and 1985, while Non-Hispanic Whites increased 120%.
  • Southeast Asian refugees, who experienced trauma due to immigration, are at risk for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but Asian Americans have lower rates of mental health utilization because stigma and shame deter them from treatments.
  • Suicide was the second leading cause of death for American India/Alaska Natives between the ages of 10 and 34 in 2009.
  • Adolescent American Indian/Alaska Native females have almost four times the rate of suicide than white adolescent females.
  • In 2011, Hispanic high school girls attempted suicide 70% more than white girls of the same age. [1]

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is observed throughout the month of July.  The United States House of Representatives proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.  The purpose is to recognize the need for improved access to mental health treatment and services, and make people aware of mental illness, especially for minorities that do not get care. [2]

In honor of Bebe Moore Campbell, who was member of the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED), the resolution was passed May 21, 2008.  Campbell was also a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), and cofounder of the Inglewood, California chapter. [3] Bebe Moore Campbell was best known as a journalist and bestselling author of several novels including “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine,” a historical novel about Emmitt Till, and the beginnings of the Civil War movement.  She wrote children’s books such as “Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry,” which deals with coping with a mother who is mentally ill.  Her novel, “72 Hour Hold,” demonstrates the complexities of living with a family member with bipolar disorder.  [4]  Bebe Moore Campbell was dedicated to move people to support mental wellness and bring awareness to the hardships of those with mental health disorders.

Addressing the Need

Barriers to mental health care cause minorities to have less availability to mental health care, and they are less likely to use the services that are available. This means that a lot of minorities are also not being included in mental health research.  Barriers include:

Stigma  In some communities, seeking a mental health care professional can be a problem because the community has stigmatized healthcare providers, and treatments.  On the other hand, some have used cultural stigmas to dismiss mental illness.

Language  In order to diagnose and treat any mental illness, there must be communication.  When there are language barriers, fear of treatment or mistrust can keep a person from receiving the care they need.

Economics   The cost keeps many from getting the care they need, but for minorities who are uninsured, or underinsured, mental health care is out of reach, or the care that they do get is of poor quality.  Social status and economic disadvantage contribute to the stress and depression that perpetuates mental illness, leaving minorities even more vulnerable.

Cultural Differences  Faith, customs, values, and traditions play a big part in person we are, and how we live our lives.  Whether a provider of care, or the patient, we have a set of values that we use to base our truths.  In the United States, the health care we use is based on Western Medicine.  If a person of another culture has views that are opposed to Western Medicine, they are unable to benefit from treatment. [5]

Help spread the word, and encourage people to seek wellness.  You can contact the Office of Minority Health to find events going on in your area, or start your own event.

Treatment and recovery are possible for everyone.  Anyone who has symptoms or concerns about their mental health should continue to seek help.  If you find care that does not work for you, keep seeking until you find quality care that works. You are not alone.


[1] "Mental Health Data/Statistics - The Office of Minority Health - OMH."  Office of Minority Health - OMH - Home Page. US Dept. of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, n.d. Web. 14 July 2013. 

[2] Gimeno, Jessica. "NAMI | History and Highlights: National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month ." NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2013. 

[3]  Ibid. 

[4] "Bebe Moore Campbell Biography." Encyclopedia of World Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 July 2013. 

[5] "Executive Summary Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity A Supplement to Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General." Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services. U.S. Public Health Service, n.d. Web. 13 July 2013.



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