July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July was designated as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in 2008 to raise awareness in communities of color and other underrepresented groups about mental illness and its effects on members of the community.

This year’s activities will include and focus on the mental health needs of refugee and immigrant groups, religious groups, and those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ spectrum. By being more inclusive, we underscore the need to address mental health issues with a unique lens in communities where mental health may not often be directly discussed and help seeking may not be encouraged.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to or to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care.

Poor mental health care access and quality contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide for people from racial and cultural communities.

Far too many people from cultural communities do not receive the help they need to manage their mental illness. Since diagnosis by a mental health professional is required to access many life changing mental health supports, those not engaged often fail to have access to support services important to recovery, school and job success, development of helpful coping skills and improved health and mental health management.

For the 2019 Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, NAMI Minnesota will focus on providing mental health education in cultural communities in St. Paul and Minneapolis. NAMI’s Mental Health 101 class will focus on wellness, an important aspect of both prevention and recovery from mental illnesses, and include wellness activities. NAMI Minnesota’s recently launched podcast series called Wellness in Color will also be held bi-weekly during July. You can connect to it on the homepage at namimn.org.