In 2008, the House of Representative designated July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Month.
Why National Minority Mental Health Month Is So Important
Bebe Moore Campbell was a leading African American author and the co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles who also championed for mental health education among diverse communities. Bebe Moore Campbell believed that mental health in the United States needed to be destigmatized and to honor that, NAMI now has the stigmafree campaign.
According to the U.S. Census, there are over 316 million people living in the United States with 62.6% identifying as White (Non-Hispanic), 17.1% Hispanic/Latino, 13.2% Black/African American, 5.3% Asian, 2.4% Multiracial, 1.2% Native American/Pacific Islander and .2% as Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander. But people identifying as a Non-white are less likely to receive mental health services. According to the National Healthcare Disparities Report 2012, health care quality and access are sub par, especially for minority and low-income groups. People that identify as a member of a racial or ethnic minority group are less likely to have access to mental health services, more likely to use the emergency room or inpatient services and more likely to receive a lower quality of care.
“It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.”
—Bebe Moore Campbell
In 2016, the International Journal of Health Studies published an article detailing data about the rate that children and young adults that identify as a racial or ethnic minority are going without receiving mental health care. For example, 40% of Native Americans that commit suicide are between the ages of 15-24. Also, the average percentage of Black or Hispanic youth receiving mental health treatment is 2.3% compared to 5.7% of White youth.
There are actions that can be done to improve cultural competence in mental health settings. These include:
- Educating and training practitioners on cultural barriers along with teaching that it is ok to ask the client questions about their culture.
- Hiring more counselors that speak the language the client speaks.
- Educating the community at large about mental health or mental health treatment.
The National Runaway Safeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929) or online at 1800RUNAWAY.org. If you or anyone you know is in need of resources or support, please call.