According to the national Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness at some point in their lives. Yet while mental illness affects people of all cultural backgrounds, access to quality mental health services is often out of reach for those in minority communities, leaving many undiagnosed, untreated, or undertreated.
To raise awareness of this disparity, and to improve access to mental health resources in minority communities, the U.S. Congress in 2008 declared July to be Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The resolution honors the work of author and activist Bebe Moore Campbell, founder of NAMI Los Angeles and a committed advocate for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities.
Defining the Problem
Mental health disorders affect millions of Americans. Right now, the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that over 42 million individuals struggle with anxiety, 16 million with major depression, over 6 million with bipolar disorder, and 2.4 million with schizophrenia.
Access to quality mental health services, however, are not equally accessible to all. NIMH data suggest that African Americans and Hispanics use mental health care services at half the frequency of whites, and that Asian Americans use these services only two-thirds as often as whites. These disparities result in untreated or undertreated mental illness in minority communities.
The negative effects of unmanaged mental illness are many.
• Mental illness results in lost earnings and keeps those with untreated mental illness out of the workforce.
• Minorities with mental health issues are more likely to experience incarceration than are their white counterparts.
• Minority communities are likely to experience higher rates of drug addiction
• Untreated mental illness increases suicide rates (90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental condition).
• Lack of culturally competent care providers can result in language gaps, cultural insensitivity, and lower quality care.
Meeting the Challenge
There is no easy solution that will address this care gap. Fortunately there are some steps you can take to help…
• Raise awareness of mental health issues facing minority communities. A great way to get started is to watch the NAMI video series, Strength Over Silence at NAMI.org to get firsthand perspectives from those in minority communities struggling with mental illness.
• Share NAMI images and graphics to increase awareness and show others you care. NAMI’s You Are Not Alone campaign features the lived experience of people affected by mental illness to fight stigma, inspire others and educate the public.
• Get involved with NAMI by sharing your story, giving a presentation, or emphasizing the importance of improving mental health resources in minority communities
Quality Mental Health Care in Troubled Times
Right now millions of Americans are struggling to cope both with the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil unrest in many of our nation’s towns and cities. Stresses produced by such national traumas don’t just go away, and they can exacerbate existing mental illness or physical health conditions. So it is more important than ever to ensure that mental health services are available to all.
Key Assets Kentucky, is a behavioral health and child caring company based in Central Kentucky. Through our Key Assets Behavioral Health program and Children in Community Care program, we seek to positively impact the lives of children, young people, and their families. We specialize in offering support services via a residential treatment group home care for youth with autistic and/or developmental disabilities, and behavioral health counseling services for youth, adults and families in times of crisis.You can contact us today by completing our Referral for Services form online or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please get in touch immediately with our kind and compassionate staff members by calling 859.286.5744.