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July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Here’s Everything You Need to Know
As many of you are probably already aware, July marks the start of National Minority Mental Health Month – a national campaign developed by Mental Health America to raise awareness of the unique and varied mental health challenges faced within BIPOC communities.
It also aims to bring our collective attention to the inequities, systemic barriers, and historical misrepresentation of BIPOC individuals when accessing and receiving mental health support. Minority mental health is historically plagued by faulty diagnosis, dismissal of symptoms, and ignorance around the unique and specific mental health concerns.
Suppose you’ve been reading along on the blog for a while. In that case, you’ll know that addressing, challenging, and creating a new history of mental health of minority and migrant groups is a core aim of everything we do here at the Immigration Evaluation Institute.
This is why July is a busy but exciting month in our professional calendar.
A Brief Overview of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
Bebe Moore Campbell, author, and mental health advocate, was the key instigator of National Minority Health Awareness Month. She co-founded the National Alliance of Mental Illness, Urban Los Angeles, and was a prolific campaigner for mental health education and mental healthcare facilities in impoverished communities.
In 2005, Campbell and Linda Wharton-Boyd worked together to develop the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month concept and what it would signify and involve. The Department of Mental Health also helped launch campaigns and press conferences encouraging residents in target communities to go for mental health checkups.
Despite strong traction at the start of the campaign launch, efforts stalled when Campbell was diagnosed with cancer. Following her passing, Wharton-Boyd and other advocates for National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month reignited the cause and what it stood for, not wanting Campbell’s passion and determined work to be forgotten.
National Minority Mental Health Month was signed into legislation in 2006, marking it an official campaign month that still drives a lot of much-needed education and awareness to this day.
The Importance of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
There are so many reasons that this month is essential. Within the work we do as immigration evaluation therapists, we probably know more than most how challenging it is to seek support and acknowledge mental health within minority and migrant communities.
Here are three of my top reasons why this month is so vital:
1. It saves hundreds of lives every year.
By offering timely support, help, and increased access, National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month ensures that those who are struggling feel seen, heard, and valued. Many people – in BIPOC communities and general communities – still have the stigma associated with mental health and reaching out. The campaigns launched into the communities that need them during July help showcase that reaching out and getting help is the best thing a person can do.
2. It boosts collective education and awareness.
As well as reaching the individuals who may be struggling and need support, National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month also educates wider social groups. From parents and teachers to employers, friends, and other family members. Looking after our mental health requires a strong support network of those who know and care for us to help us. By raising awareness across a community, the campaigns shift collective mindsets about mental health, enabling everyone to feel more open, knowledgable, and accepting of the mental health challenges loved ones may experience.
3. It shows that people care.
Campbell started this campaign with the genuine hope of creating significant cultural and societal change. She knew that it wasn’t just the minority groups who needed help – the entire system around mental health care, including who gets access and how they are treated, must be completely rewritten. BIPOC and migrant communities face so many challenges in their daily lives. This month aims to show that many out there want to proactively help them overcome those challenges.
Ways to Get Involved this Month
A crucial way to get involved is by showing direct alliance and alignment with the national campaign.
You can find some excellent graphics and copy you can use for your own social media channels to signify to your broader audience that you support the month on the campaign website. You can also find a collection of quotes and graphics from Bebe Moore Campbell to share on social media via the Mental Health America website.
Use these to start opening a conversation and showcasing your work, how you support clients, and other valuable resources that your professional and personal connections will find valuable.
If you want to learn more about minority health, the Office of Minority Health offers the ‘Think Cultural Health Behavioral Health’ E-Learning Program. This excellent online course aims to help professionals develop culturally and linguistically appropriate services.
As always, you can find free resources about supporting migrant and minority communities on the Immigration Evaluation website – including my free Quick Start Guide.
Throughout the month ahead, I’ll be aiming to share further resources as I find them, and I hope you’ll do the same! Our Facebook group is an excellent place to do this, and if you’re a part of or organizing any events during July, I’d love to hear about it.
Together, we can keep building on the much-needed work that Campbell and Wharton-Boyd started – and help further support our minority communities.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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