Mental health disorders are one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S., affecting approximately one in every four families. In contrast, roughly two-thirds of those with a diagnosable mental disorder do not seek treatment due to stigma, lack of community-based resources, an inaccurate diagnosis, or no diagnosis at all. Add to that, adult Caucasians with mental health disorders are more likely to obtain treatment than adult minorities with identical conditions, according to a 1999 Surgeon General report.
National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, founded in 2008, is observed annually in July. This yearly observance highlights that mental health disorders do not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, country of origin, age, disability, or monetary status.
Unfortunately, due to conscious and unconscious biases, misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment are common experiences for patients whose culture, identity, or socioeconomic status does not match that of their health care practitioner. Youth with mental health disorders are especially vulnerable as their symptoms can be misinterpreted as character flaws, leading to their being referred to the juvenile justice system instead of receiving compassionate, supportive specialty care.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Successful counseling and mental health treatment hinge on effective communication. For persons of all ages, seemingly insignificant variances in language and cultural values can make a huge difference in any healthcare setting. Furthermore, language can make it difficult for many people to locate and understand their mental health treatment eligibility, but communication is not the only obstacle to overcome:
- Stigma makes mental health therapy frequently a “last resort.”
- Speaking freely about personal or familial concerns can be difficult for some cultural traditions.
- Difficulties with transportation may limit accessibility.
- Lack of available community resources.
National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month’s objective is to bring attention to the need for culturally relevant treatment options and to encourage healthcare professionals to become more knowledgeable about removing barriers to mental health and substance use disorders treatment.
For over 50 years, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare has been North Central Florida’s leading comprehensive provider for treating mental illnesses and substance use disorders with a commitment to providing all individuals from all backgrounds Hope, Recovery, and Wellness.
Mental Health America: https://mhanational.org/sites/default/files/BIPOC-MHM-Toolkit-2021_Final_03_0.pdf