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National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, celebrated in July, highlights the importance of mental health services in underrepresented communities. This initiative was founded in 2008 by author and activist, Bebe Moore Campbell who was personally affected by her family’s experience with untreated mental illness. What started as the National Alliance on Mental Illness state chapter has progressed into a nation-wide effort adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Mental Health (OMH). The goal is to improve access to mental health services. There are countless statistics that indicate that racial and ethnic minority groups, in comparison to their White counterparts, lack access to mental health services. For instance, only 25% of the African-American population in the U.S. received treatment in 2021 for a mental illness compared to 52% of their White counterparts receiving services. Minority communities who have untreated mental illness are at higher risk of committing suicide. Moreover, because of structural racism and income inequality, affordability of mental health services become limited for priority populations such as African-American, Latin American/Hispanic/Latin(x), Asian-American/Pacific Islander, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. To be restorative, we have to shift the culture of mental health and create pathways to services for minorities and underrepresented groups. We have to reduce the stigma and shame associated with mental illness that prevent individuals from seeking treatment. We have to dismantle the systems that oppress minority groups and discourage them from seeking help. As we culminate this month, we acknowledge the many lives that have been lost because of untreated mental illness. We encourage you to tell someone, who may be in need, to get help. Make therapy the norm and normalize seeking mental health services.

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