Racial and ethnic minority groups face a variety of obstacles, and it is no different when it comes to accessing and receiving care for mental health. July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to make a concerted effort to shed light on the hardships faced by these groups as well as advocate for and support improvements in the medical system.
Mental health has a long history shrouded in stigma that has made it challenging for people in need to feel comfortable talking about their needs and seeking help. This mindset is prevalent in the BIPOC community with more than 80% of Black Americans being discouraged from seeking treatment due to concerns regarding the stigma associated with mental illness, according to rtor.org. This obstacle is amplified by the presence of the socioeconomic disparities that minority groups in America face which impact their access to quality mental healthcare.
The BIPOC community faces many systemic challenges when it comes to accepting mental health and being willing and able to seek out and access adequate care. Below are just a few of the statistics (from rtor.org [resources to recover] fact sheet) impacting the ability of minority racial and ethnic groups to receive adequate mental health care.
The barriers that minority groups face are systemic and cannot be solved quickly or by one person. In our community and throughout the world it takes the combined effort of everyone to make the deep-rooted changes that will leave a lasting difference.
In April 2023, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, visited Cleveland to speak with Metropolitan School District high school students. The dialogue covered student mental health and discussed the need, especially amongst gun violence and post-pandemic challenges, to improve resources offered to students and the community as a whole.
"We have to make sure we have counselors in schools and there's more mental health care in hospitals and clinics, but also know we have to address trauma and gun violence and some of the harmful effects of technology, particularly social media, and our kids," Murthy said in a @News5Cleveland article.
Change begins with increased awareness and advocacy to demand actions be taken. July may be Minority Mental Health Month and is the perfect time to refocus on the changes that must be made. It’s important to remember, however, that continued resource-sharing and collaboration beyond July is instrumental in achieving the systemic changes we want and need to see.