Mental illness doesn’t discriminate: Across the board, one in 5 adults are affected by mental illness. What does vary widely though is access to mental health services and support, as well as education and awareness regarding mental health. For example, according to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), “Due to unmet needs and general lack of knowledge about mental illness, African Americans are 20% more likely to experience severe forms of mental health conditions including major depression, suicide and posttraumatic stress disorder.” A recent study in California also found that mon African American women, only 7% of those experiencing mental health symptoms seek treatment.
Statistics such as these ones are exactly why minority mental health is an important topic to address. July is National Minority Mental Health Month and a time for us to take action to not only make renewed efforts to provide access to mental health services for minorities but also education and awareness to help fight against stigmas that can still exist. Another important step in fixing this disparity is for mental health service providers to actively work to understand how a person’s culture and beliefs can influence their mental health. A culturally competent provider will be able to use their knowledge and understanding of someone’s background and culture when working with them to achieve their recovery goals.