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July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

African American Mental Health

Started by the US House of Representatives in 2008, Mental Health Awareness Month is bringing recognition to the lack of access and quality for mental health among minorities, which unfortunately remains a large problem for a variety of reasons. This awareness month aims at informing not only the general public, but also the entire mental health field. The more we discuss and acknowledge the problem, the easier it will be to find a solution. At Peak View Behavioral Health, we are a mental health facility who is proud to stand behind minority mental health. We also proudly stand behind and serve our minority communities in the Colorado Springs area.

The Disparity in Mental Health for Minorities

Studies done by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that nearly two-thirds of people with mental illness do not seek out help. Unfortunately, minorities are even less likely to seek help. One contributing factor is the lack of access to proper mental health facilities and psychologists. In many minority communities, there are considerably less mental health centers or simply none at all. Additionally, research shows that minorities, including Blacks and African Americans, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, Latino Americans, and Asians Americans are more likely to experience mental health illness such as depression and suicide. Socio-economics often plays a considerable role with minorities experiencing a disproportionate amount of poverty. Therefore, minority populations, which are more likely to experience mental illness, do not even have the resources and proper facilities to treat such illness.

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Health

As mentioned earlier, many people suffering from mental illness, most notably minorities, do not seek out help. This is in part due to the stigma surrounding mental health, which discourages admission of mental health problems, and even discussion of mental health in general. Not surprisingly, this stigma is even more pronounced among minority groups. Media plays a large role. Minorities are too often under represented in commercials and advertisements for government awareness campaigns, pharmaceutical companies, and mental health centers. When minorities don’t see themselves as potential victims of mental illness such as depression, they attempt to normalize their conditions. Clinical depression and mental illness can affect everyone and should not be tolerated. Often, the stigma is culturally reinforced, where it is sometimes seen as weak to seek out assistance. Stigma remains a large obstacle in achieving mental health equity for minorities.

How to Find Equality in Mental Health

Awareness is a good start, but equality in mental health requires much more. It requires action. Action can and should start with mental health centers, psychologists, psychiatric hospitals, behavioral health centers and other facilities who need to find ways to better accommodate minorities and their specific needs. The mental health field needs to be better informed of the stigma behind mental health, especially for minorities. Frankly, mental health facilities need to simply exist where they are most needed. The media needs to take action as well so that communities afflicted with mental health problems (which is all communities) are represented in our daily lives. Ultimately, the largest responsibility falls on every one of us. Speak out against inequality. Become an advocate for change and equality. Start talking to people about mental health so that the stigma can lessen its hold. At Peak View Behavioral Health, we are trained and ready to help our entire community. We believe in individualized care which takes into consideration socio-economics and racial background. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental illness such as depression or suicide, don’t hesitate to contact us at Peak View Behavioral Health. We have a multidisciplinary staff who is more than capable to help everyone, including minorities right here the Colorado Springs. We strive for mental health equality in our community and are proud to do our part. Please give us a call at 719-444-8484 to set up a free confidential assessment.

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