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      The Impact of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

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      July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and its impact is noticed throughout the United States. 

      This annual behavioral health campaign began in 2008 to create mental health care awareness in diverse communities. A US House of Representatives proclamation made it official, designating this month to spotlight the need to improve access to mental health services and treatments, through increased public awareness. 

      This initiative began with Bebe Moore Campbell. She was struggling to support her daughter who was battling mental illness, and ultimately a system that prevented her from getting help and support.  

      She founded NAMI-Inglewood (urban Los Angeles, California) in a predominantly African American neighborhood to create a space that was safe for its residents to talk about mental health issues impacting the community.

      Throughout her time as an advocate, Campbell’s vision expanded her advocacy nationwide, reaching Washington, DC. On June 2, 2008, Congress formally recognized July of each year as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, to bring awareness to mental illness treatment struggles that underrepresented groups face.

      Behavioral health organizations have increasingly created and hosted events and activities each July in underrepresented communities across the country each year. The National Network to Eliminate Disparities (a SAMHSA-supported initiative) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have partnered to create campaigns to raise awareness. 

      What’s at Stake for Disadvantaged Populations Needing Mental Health Treatment

      Within the scope of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, issues concerning awareness of mental health and substance use disorders are moved to the forefront. The goal is to destigmatize mental illness and enhance public awareness among affected minority communities nationwide. Studies suggest that racial and sexual minority populations show higher than average occurrence of behavioral health issues, including anxiety, depression, suicidal tendencies, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

      An identified problem to overcome is stigmatized minority groups. This is a major cause of feelings of rejection, estrangement, and harassment. These difficulties can be magnified by obstacles including immigration status, socioeconomic conditions, and education levels.

      The inability to obtain public health benefits also adversely impacts the experiences of at-risk ethnic groups.

      How to Show Support for Minority Mental Health Awareness

      Getting involved today: 

      • The United States Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health encourages state, tribal, and local leaders, community-based organizations, and faith-based congregations to work together with healthcare providers. The first step is education to reduce mental health cultural stigma. The second is securing treatment for those who would benefit from it. 
      • Get engaged. Visit this Health and Human Services web page during July for shareable social media messages, downloadable graphics, and health resources prompting National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
      • Tag social media posts with #MinorityMentalHealth to join the awareness movement.

      Resources to access and share:

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