This Minority Mental Health Month, NAMI is Raising Awareness About Mental Health in Underrepresented Communities

Jul 1, 2020

Arlington, VA — NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has the goal of raising awareness about mental health care in underrepresented communities. Our culture, beliefs, sexual identity, values, race and language all affect how we perceive and experience mental health conditions. In fact, cultural differences can influence what treatments, coping mechanisms and supports work for us. It is essential for culture and identity to be a part of the conversation about mental health care.
In 2008, July was designated as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month by the U.S. House of Representatives in honor of the leading African American novelist and journalist, who sought to eliminate stigma among diverse communities.
In the wake of both the pandemic and racial violence, there’s the potential for an increase in the number of people impacted by mental health conditions. NAMI’s Statement on Racism emphasizes that the effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real. While anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background, facing racial discrimination can significantly worsen symptoms. Additionally, background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult. Racism is a public health crisis, and we stand with all the families, friends and communities who have lost loved ones and experienced trauma.
To help raise awareness, NAMI is releasing the latest installments of the “Strength Over Silence” video series, highlighting three personal stories featuring courage, culture and community. Yulanda Ming Blackson lives with mental illness and shares her story about mental health and faith in the Black community. Poojah Mehta, a NAMI New York Board member, focuses on amplifying the voices of those in underrepresented communities. And Rosemary Ketchum, the first-ever trans woman to get elected in West Virginia, shares her family experience with mental illness and addresses the need for LGBTIQ+ people to have a voice in the mental health movement.
“We want to raise awareness about disparities in the mental health system – and what we can do about them,” said Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of NAMI. “Mental health conditions don’t discriminate, and neither should our mental health system. We are calling for systematic change and improved access to culturally competent care, so no one feels alone in their journey.”
The NAMI community is here to help and provide resources. Together, we can help people from underrepresented populations get the mental health care they need. For additional resources, please visit NAMI’s identity and the cultural dimensions of mental health webpage.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.
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text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).