You’ve likely heard the statistic that every one in five adults in America experiences a mental illness. Mental health affects everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity or background. However, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, “Minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care.”
As July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, the goal is to improve access to mental health treatment and services and promote public awareness of mental illness, particularly among minorities.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the stigma surrounding mental illness “creates an environment of shame, fear and silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment.” There are many actions each of us can take to change public perceptions of mental illness.
Know the Minority Mental Health Facts
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- Over 70 percent of Black/African American adolescents with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment for their condition.
- Almost 25 percent of adolescents with a major depressive episode in the last year were Hispanic/Latino.
- Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic groups.
- In the past year, nearly 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Native young adults had serious thoughts of suicide.
- In the past year, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults had a diagnosable mental illness.
As you learn more about mental illness, its stigma and treatment resources, you can become a better ally. For local resources, consider reaching out to NAMI’s organization in Nevada. NAMI also provides information about mental health among minority groups.
Help the people in your circle of influence by offering support, especially if you think someone may be having trouble. Listening is an action that goes a long way toward showing love and support. NAMI also suggests using respectful language to talk about mental health conditions and challenging any misconceptions you encounter.
During Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, each of us can do something to promote awareness of mental health and change the stigma surrounding it. Also, don’t forget that mental health treatment is included in your 10 Essential Health Benefits.