The U.S. House of Representatives declared July National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in 2008. Being that minorities are already a marginalized groups in society the need to remain resilient makes asking for help so much more difficult. National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month focuses on providing information and resources specifically to minorities in hopes to tackle the many health inequalities faced.
According to the U.S Surgeon General Report minorities are less like to seek help and treatment for their mental illnesses, they have less available resources, they receive lower quality mental health care, and they are extremely underrepresented in mental health related research.
Being an African American with a mental illness, I can definitely account for the lack of mental health resources I have available to me. Although I do feel like I am at a disadvantage when it comes to the accessibility to treatment, I am confident that through awareness we as a society are moving closer to closing the mental health inequality gap.
Minority Mental Health Awareness Month would not be possible without Bebe Moore Campbell. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Bebe Moore Campbell was an amazing asset to minority mental health. She was an author, advocate, and a wonderful spokeswoman who specifically focused on issues of minority mental health. Her book Sometimes my Mommy gets Angry encompasses the trials and tribulations of a little girl living with a mother with bipolar disorder. She also writes
“Once my loved one accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African-Americans. The message must go on billboards 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” ~Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005
Although she died in November of 2006, her legacy will live on forever.
Image from (www.nami.org)