July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. It was established in 2008, by Congress, to raise awareness about mental illness and educate local communities on the impact on ethnic and racial minorities. Mental health issues are exacerbated, within the Black community, on an external level, due to multiple factors including a lack of:
- access to mental health services (no insurance, poverty, and/or no transportation)
- availability of mental health services (few group-counseling or in-home services)
- qualified Black/African American mental health professionals (few service providers who share same cultural, social and environmental values as clients)
- understanding and appreciation of historical adversity in society (lack of understanding of negative impact of racism and microaggressions on clients)
On an internal level, studies have shown that many Black/African Americans do not want to be stigmatized as “mentally ill” and, therefore, find ways to manage and cope with distress on their own, without the aid of formal mental health treatment.
Now is the time to “break the chains” of stigma and shame around mental illness and distress within the Black community. Therefore, in honor of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, each week, during July, we will focus exclusively on Black female mental health. We hope to offer tools for inspiration, empowerment and transformation for mental health professionals to use with their clients.