Updated: Jul 27, 2018
July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (NMMHAM). This month was announced in 2008 by the U.S. House of Representatives. The reasoning behind this was twofold: to raise awareness of mental health issues within minority communities, and to improve access to mental health treatment and services.
Bebe Moore Campbell was a huge advocate in the area of minority mental health issues and awareness. Her tireless devotion and strides to end the stigma and increase awareness in this area led to the creation of the National Minority Mental Health Task Force. When Campbell lost her battle with cancer, friends and others advocates worked together toward the creation of NMMHAM, continuing the work that she began.
Raising awareness of minority mental health issues requires becoming more educated in the area. Studies show us that marginalized groups of people have a high prevalence of risk factors that can lead to mental illness. For example, poverty can lead to depression, anxiety and PTSD; statistics show that marginalized people often live very close to the line of poverty. This poverty also discourages people from seeking treatment due to a lack of insurance, or the inability to afford to miss work to go to doctor appointments.
Another issue in regard to mental health for marginalized people, is the prevalence of those who treat with false assumptions regarding people of color and their health. Certain treatments may be passed over because the illness is often thought of as more of a problem within the white community. This is a subtle form of racism that can and does present itself. According to the University of Southern California, two studies have shown that physicians are less likely to identify severe depression in people of color, as compared to those who are white. Community awareness is essential in changing the landscape in regard to under represented people and mental health. It is an effort that demands involvement from schools, churches, government, clinics, hospitals, and the general community. With knowledge comes hope and healing. Those in a helping profession, such as counseling, are poised to help.
At eSupport, our counselors work diligently to build an individualized relationship with each and every person served. We understand that each individual comes to counseling with their own unique set of beliefs, values and view of their world. We also recognize that there are injustices that people of color and people from marginalized groups face on a daily basis. We acknowledge that it takes special care and attention in order to build relationships, especially with those who are unsure about how the counseling process may help. We strive for, and aspire to be, culturally competent. We advocate for those who need assistance speaking up, and being heard. We want to use our privilege as counselors, to be effective advocates! Please let us know how we can help.