July is National Minority Mental Health Month, but What Does That Really Mean?

julio 25, 2022
Emily Win

The Department of Health and Human Services officially recognizes this month as a time to bring awareness to the stigma and barriers racial and ethnic minorities face in accessing and utilizing mental health services. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that while most minority groups have similar or fewer mental disorders than whites, «the consequences of mental illness in minorities may be long lasting.” This is due to a lack of access to primary healthcare, insurance, and mental health education. Additionally, racial minority groups are often treated with cultural insensitivity by healthcare and mental health professionals. According to the APA, many patients in minority groups are underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and factors that contribute to this include “language differences between patient and provider, stigma of mental illness among minority groups, and cultural presentation of symptoms.”

Our mental health and wellness providers at CII are acutely aware of these issues, which is why a culturally sensitive, trauma-informed approach is the foundation of their work. We asked a few of our staff why specifically recognizing minority mental health is crucial. Here’s what they shared:

“Mental health in our communities is still a hard thing to sell, especially in lower income communities. Our communities have a hard time trusting systems, and this has created a barrier. Breaking down this barrier has been an amazing process for me, specifically.”

Jessie E Gonzalez. Clinical Supervisor

“It is important to recognize minority mental health, because mental illness does not have a specific race/ethnicity, and it can affect anyone regardless of their race. However, not everyone is able to get the support needed due to mental health being stigmatized in many minority groups. It is very important that mental illness gets treated in all minority groups.”

Elizabeth Magana, Child and Family Specialist

“I feel that it’s important because I am aware that racial and sexual minority groups experience higher levels of anxiety and other challenges.”

Anna Maria Guerra, Therapist

“In mental health particularly, it is important to provide the services necessary to restore trust and mend what has been broken by systems that have marginalized, exploited, and forgotten communities of color for centuries.”

-Karen Luna Gonzalez, Therapist

“Recognizing minority mental health is very important as it helps our community become better in a sense that people can learn to be more understanding and help reach those that need assistance but may not have the resources.”

Ashley Ramirez, Intensive Care Coordinator

“Coming from a Latino family and community, mental health is considered a myth. Therapists and medication are for ‘crazy people’ or ‘the weak minded’. It’s important to educate our communities and let them know that it is okay to speak about trauma. It is okay to seek help without having to fear what people will think of you or how they will perceive you. It took me a while to be able to seek help myself, because I did not want my family to see me as a ‘weak’ person. I’m thankful that I was able to connect with a therapist of my own and also educate my family on the importance of mental health to break the stigma.”

Sofia Manzo, Parent Partner

The Office of Minority Health has put together an abundance of resources for anyone looking to seek care or learn more about how to advocate for minority mental health equity. For an extensive list of information on coping with stress, trauma, violence, substance use, diagnoses, and treatment, head to: National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month — Resources and Publications (hhs.gov)

If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of self-harm, harm to others, or any other mental health crisis, call or text 988 to get connected to a free crisis counselor.