Mental Health Awareness Month was observed in the United States two months ago in May. Since 1949, the thirty-one day span was set to raise awareness of mental health and to end the stigma that follows it. While many are aware of the purpose or general existence of this observance, much more can be done to educate others on the importance of mental health awareness, especially those who might need it more.
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This recognition started in 2008 as a way to bring awareness to the challenges minorities might face related to mental health. Belonging to a minority group, regardless of whether that group relates to race, gender, sexuality, religion, or ethnicity, might make it harder to get access to mental health care. Alongside problems shared by anyone seeking mental health care like financial difficulties or finding the right specialist to talk to, minorities also face other issues that prevent them from getting the proper care that they need:
Issue 1: Language barriers between them and the specialists they are seeking
The ability to communicate to a specialist or when seeking one is important. A person might not be able to accurately describe what they are experiencing if they couldn’t communicate. Unfortunately, for people who are not native English speakers, this language barrier makes getting help difficult.
Issue 2: Discrimination set against minorities
There’s no denying that discrimination exists in the world. Although many would argue that it has gone down over time, and it has, discrimination is still a problem that affects many people today. This judgement could make it hard for some to seek the help they need and at times where that help is very much needed.
Issue 3: High level of stigma regarding mental health shared among minority groups
Whether a cause of religious beliefs or a lack of accurate education is the bigger cause, the stigma surrounding mental health is high in minority communities. This in turn could be the reason why many people decide against seeking care, because they might be looked down on for simply thinking about personal mental health-related issues. Without the support, it could be daunting to find answers on their own.
For some, care and treatment for mental health can come too late or not at all. If factors such as a lack of resources, education, or support occurs, it could hinder the process of finding help when it is needed the most. However, being aware of the problem can lead to positively fixing the problem.
We are more than halfway through Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, a month that highlights the need to spread awareness of mental health throughout the minority population. Many minorities face a number of challenges that make it hard for them to seek treatment and care but learning about those challenges can only lessen the number. Just like with May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, everyone should continue to spread the importance of mental health awareness in order to aid in getting people the help they need.