Mental health is an essential aspect of our overall well-being, impacting our lives in numerous ways. However, for many minority communities, the topic of mental health remains shrouded in silence and stigma.
Since 2008, the month of July has been declared National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This awareness month is dedicated to Bebe Moore Campbell, co-founder of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Urban Los Angeles, author, and a proponent for change in the lack of mental health care and treatment options within communities of color (NAMI, 2023). National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month enhances the call around the need for improved access to mental health treatment among historically underserved communities, primarily communities of color.
Knowing that these mental health disparities exist and are experienced every day by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, how can we as military service providers bring awareness to the unique struggles that each of these communities face regarding mental illness? How can we best support our clients that are military service members and military families that are also members of these communities?
Below are several resources that highlight the need for minority mental health awareness and provide strategies for working with underserved communities.
Minority Mental Health Resources
The first resource is the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which shares a multitude of strategies for combating mental health challenges for minority communities. One great resource they share is the Strength Over Silence docuseries, a collection of videos featuring champions of mental health in which they emphasize the intersectionality of mental health issues and racial/ethnic culture and identity.
NAMI also releases Mental Health resources in the form of Toolkits each July. This year’s BIPOC Mental Health Month theme is Culture, Community, and Connection, and the 2023 toolkit serves as a suite of resources to “support and uplift BIPOC individuals in the face of oppression and systemic racism.”
The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the National Center for PTSD shares articles on racial trauma and the CDC offers resources on working together for mental health equity. These resources highlight the importance of understanding racism as a serious public health concern.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has a compiled list of resources available for parents and caregivers, as well as service providers working with families, to increase public awareness of mental health issues among minority communities. These resources include trauma-informed care practices and parenting strategies designed around cultural responsiveness.
Our OneOp Military Family Readiness Academy takes a multidisciplinary approach to current issues faced by family service providers in their work. The 2022 MFRA focused on Family Well-being: Navigating the Social Justice Landscape. These programs encourage participants to view social justice as a pathway to family well-being and also provide attendees with continuing education credit opportunities.
National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month serves as a reminder that mental health challenges know no boundaries and impact individuals in various ways. It’s important in recognizing the specific needs of minority communities and how we can help break the stigma of mental health treatment the whole year around. By promoting better mental health outcomes in underserved communities, we promote better mental health for us all.
Blog Post Image: Pexels [Black patient and psychologist discussing problem in office by Alex Green, October 7th, 2020, CC0]
National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI. (2023). Learn About Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Retrieved from: https://nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Bebe-Moore-Campbell-National-Minority-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month/Learn-About-Bebe-Moore-Campbell-National-Minority-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month