July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the Surgeon General’s report, minorities:
• are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness
• have less access to and availability of mental health services
• often receive a poorer quality of mental health care
• are underrepresented in mental health research
I have to say that I’ve been very privileged as far as getting mental health treatment goes. But it took a while before I decided to seek treatment–and I think some of it had to do with my Japanese culture. In many cultures, there’s still a lot of shame and stigma attached to any mental health problems. Yes, we need more access to care and improve quality of that care, but we also (still) need to work on changing the perception of mental illness within those cultures so that people aren’t afraid to seek care when they need it.
I hope that there will be some publicity for National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, at least more than May’s Mental Health Month. If this country took time to designate this month as such, we should at least acknowledge its existence.
For additional information about National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and to access resources and suggested activities, visit: www.nami.org/minoritymentalhealthmonth.