Since 2008, July has been formally recognized in the United States as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Month, or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health advocate and best-selling author, Bebe Moore Campbell, was an acclaimed member and chapter founder of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Urban Los Angeles. Campbell worked tirelessly to bring awareness to and improve access of mental health treatment and services for underrepresented groups in the U.S.
With the Black Lives Matter movement powering across the country, coupled with a surge in protests and petitions, change is still being demanded in our society. It’s important that we acknowledge not only the mental health struggles affecting BIPOC individuals, but also continue to work towards ending the stigmas that exist around seeking and providing adequate mental health treatment for those who need it.
According to Mental Health America multi-racial people are more likely to screen positive or at-risk for alcohol/substance abuse disorders, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and psychosis. In addition, Native and indigenous people are the most likely to screen positive or at-risk for bipolar disorder and PTSD.
According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black adults in the U.S. are more likely than white adults to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress. In addition, Despite the needs, one-in-tree Black or African American adults who need mental health care receive it. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Mental Health Facts for African Americans guide, African Americans are:
- Less likely to receive guideline-consistent care
- Less frequently included in mental health research
- More likely to use emergency rooms or primary care (rather than mental health specialists)
According to NAMI, minorities face barriers to accessing adequate mental healthcare that include: socioeconomic disparities, stigma, provider bias and inequality of care.
Now, more than ever, BIPOC Awareness month is an opportunity for us to shed light on mental health awareness and encourage support for individuals living in diverse communities. In addition, we must recognize how cultural factors play a role in defining mental health and continue educating our community on ways to support well-being, resiliency and healing.