Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background. However, background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult.
In May of 2008, the US House of Representatives announced July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group to achieve two goals:
· Improve access to mental health treatment and services and promote public awareness of mental illness.
· Name a month as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.
In the U.S., it is a fact that minorities are less likely to receive mental health care and are also less likely to receive quality care. In a study looking at health care from 2008-2012, 46% of white adults received mental health services, compared to only 30% of African American adults and 27% of Hispanic adults. This is in part due to disparities in insurance, with a study in 2018 finding that Black families are 1.5 times more likely to by uninsured, with Hispanic families being 2.5 times more likely.
Of the care that is received, it is often lacking. This can be due in part to health professionals not taking certain claims by minorities seriously, or the care isn’t conducive to the racial/ethnic background of the individual. This lack of quality care is also linked with a lack of minority health care representation, with 86% of psychologists in the U.S. being white.
This lack of treatment can go on to have large impacts on these groups. According to a 2022 paper, minorities with untreated mental illnesses are more likely to have experienced poverty, be unemployed, and/or experience incarceration. The argument is made that a person is put into a “Double Jeopardy” situation, where they are under the stress of facing two different stigmas: One racial/ethnic, the other mental illness. This combination ultimately pushes people toward worse life outcomes.
It is in the spirit of the month, as well as part of the NAMI mission, to bring awareness to these issues so that we may better our society and fix these issues. Everyone is deserving of care, quality care, without the worry of having to face a mental crisis alone.