For those of you who didn’t know July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. We are halfway through the month of July and it is important to highlight this very important cause. It is my belief now more than ever it is important to recognize how mental health is affecting minority populations. Many people today live with undiagnosed mental illness and there are some with diagnoses that are not receiving treatment. No matter if you or one of your loved ones suffer from mental illness there is something that we all can do, especially during Mental Health Awareness Month.
Presented as a bill to the House of Representatives in 2008 by Representative Albert Wynn from Maryland, the bill aimed to not only formally recognize July as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, the bill also sough to enhance public awareness of mental illness and specifically mental illness among minorities and improve access to mental health treatment and services and to increase public awareness of mental illness.
Originally the brainchild of the late author, mental health advocate and co-founder of National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI, Bebe Moore Campbell, July has been the month were minority mental health should be highlighted. Campbell, who suffered from mental illness herself was very outspoken about her journey as well as the importance of eliminating family stigma and quality care. More than access to care, the highlight has been being able to be open about mental illness and removing the stigma. This is the case not only in minority communities. While it has been almost 10 years since Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was recognized by Congress there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done in the area of mental health.
1 in 10 children and 1 in 5 adults suffer from mental illness in America. Those numbers are alarming. 1in 10 children! Even more alarming than the numbers is that fact that the majority of persons living with mental illness in the United States will not seek any type of treatment. Even now minorities are less likely to get the diagnosis and treatment the need. They are also less likely yo have access to mental health services and have mental health services available to them. Often when the do have access to and receive care it is of a subpar quality compared to majority populations.
The facts and the statistics surrounding minority mental health are staggering. 1 in 10 children in the United States is affected by mental illness. There are thousands of people living with mental illness that are going treated and worse yet undiagnosed. Those who often need mental health services the most do not have access to those services. Everyone may not be able to do the same thing, but we can all do something. Below is a list showing you signs that someone you know may need help.
At the end of the day many of us have been affected by mental health, either someone in our family or someone we know has been affected by mental illness. Many of us have ourselves been affected by mental illness. If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health know that there are organizations out there who can and will help. We do not have to suffer in silence. Let us all do what we can to assist others in fighting their battle with mental illness.