Since 2008, July has been designated as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and is devoted to raising awareness of mental illnesses that BIPOCs face. July is also recognized as Bebe More Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness month.
The basic acknowledgment of mental health awareness serves to illustrate the difficulties that BIPOCs generally encounter, even when in a diverse workplace. BIPOC, or Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, is the overarching term used for people belonging to these marginalized ethnic groups.
The Importance of a Dedicated Month to Mental Health for BIPOCs
Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, socio-economic issues, or a variety of other potential reasons, mental health problems affect everyone worldwide. However, when it comes to the societal stigma attached to persons of color, these problems are more severe. Even though our society is becoming more globalized with an increase in recognizing diversity, the problem of racial and ethnic prejudice persists, adding stress and hardship, thus leading to mental health problems.
BIPOCs generally lack a competitive advantage of access to specialized resources and face a dual problem compared to people belonging to non-BIPOCs. In other words, not only do we have mental health needs, but also face societal stigmas simply because we may belong to a disenfranchised and marginalized community.
There are other several reasons for the lack of access to mental health treatment for BIPOCs. These could be due to language barriers, less diversity among mental health care providers, lacking community support, as well as a breadth of other reasons. Often times, lack of job opportunities and not being a part of diverse professionals also adds additional stress to the situation.
Research shows that 6.8 million African Americans, 8.9 million Hispanic Americans, 2.2 million Asian Americans, and 830,000 native Americans have mental health issues. Research also suggests that those who belong to more than one particular race usually have more mental illnesses than others. These figures also extend to the LGBTQIA+ community and 3.9 million persons belonging to that group having mental health issues.
Another survey done by MHA (Mental Health America) in 2020 shows that most people who reported mental health issues were non-white or belonging to the BIPOC community.
Ultimately, dedication to a mental health awareness month for BIPOCs can be used not only to raise awareness about mental health issues but to promote treatment and research in the field. It can also serve as an opportunity to overcome the stigma that is associated with mental illnesses.
Further, those BIPOCs who need mental health care can get improved access to resources and misconceptions can be alleviated. Those who suffer from mental illnesses can see how their lives are getting impacted and they can be encouraged to seek more support.
Studies suggest that BIPOCs who seek help with mental health issues are unable to receive the attention and proper care, and are generally dissatisfied with their experiences. We need to overcome these issues so that BIPOCs no longer need to feel aggrieved.
How Others Can Contribute
Consistently and continuously making small efforts in understanding the issues of mental health, especially in the BIPOC community, will help ease the stigma that many people face and make more people feel supported, in an inclusively diverse community. Offering support as a community, especially for BIPOCs is a great way to show that you care.
For instance, if recruiters follow a diversity recruiting strategy, it will help BIPOCs feel recognized and empowered, and lead the way in helping see a decline in mental health issues.
By raising awareness of the challenges that BIPOCs confront in their day-to-day lives, non-BIPOCs will be able to empathize better. In addition, counselors, therapists, and mental health workers will also receive more support to help them in their encounters with BIPOCs.
Myths that BIPOCs are more frequent substance abusers, or that they resist seeking therapy need to be eradicated and put to rest.
Fortunately today there is more support available for BIPOCs that have mental health issues. Online resources and apps also help to break down barriers and allow people to get support on different platforms, with different approaches.
Since we have a dedicated month to mental health awareness for BIPOCs, more understanding is being created. July is recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month for BIPOCs, however, at Jump Recruits, we encourage you to be mindful of the issues that marginalized and minority communities deal with all year round. Join us in building inclusive, diverse communities and take a moment to sign up to our free talent hub.
In the words of Bebe Moore Campbell who was an author, teacher, journalist, and mental health advocate,
“We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans. The message must go on billboard and in radio and TV public service announcements. It must be preached from pulpits and discussed in community forums. It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.”