Did you know that July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in the US? Yeah, me either until very recently. While Mental Health Awareness Month in May has picked up more and more attention and traction in the last few years, I am willing to bet most people still aren't aware that there is another month specifically for minority mental health awareness. Unfortunately this is not surprising to me and, if anything, does an all too good job of reflecting the lack of focus on minority mental health. While "mental health" can appropriately encompass the experiences of everyone in some ways, it is vital to recognize the differences in symptoms and needs for various populations. To say that "mental health awareness" reflects everyone's experience is just false and ignores not only the complexity of mental health but the complexity of culture, values, and experience. Take this infographic:
There are many reasons that certain mental health challenges may be more prevalent in certain populations and even more reasons why the same populations aren't getting sufficient support. From my limited education and experience on this topic specifically, I think stigma, knowledge of resources, and availability of resources are a few of the top reasons that our minority communities are not getting the mental health help that they need.
Whether one's context requires a life coach, counselor, psychiatrist, social worker, etc... finding a good fit to provide support in the more sensitive areas of our lives can be really challenging, if not seemingly impossible.
I always tell people,
finding a helping/support professional is similar to finding a romantic partner
We need to feel that vibe- the trust, confidence to open up, and overall personality match- or progress is just not going to happen. If you don't feel a (professional) closeness with that person- you're wasting both of your time.
And this is the catch. There are significantly less people of color working in the coaching/counseling/psychology fields. I won't go into the reasons behind this.. that's a whole other post... but the moral of the story is that:
less minority professionals= less access for minorities seeking support
Yes, people of color and minorities can work with someone from a different background/ not a person of minority status. But, when we go back to the rule of finding a support professional that we vibe with and can connect with on a deeper level, this can be much more challenging when the person cannot personally relate to a vital part of your identity.
I have some thoughts on this topic, not as much experience, but a ton of empathy. So, in a very small attempt to bring awareness and support to Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, I have compiled a list of specific resources to turn your attention to for support and further information (Note: many of these are geared towards Black/African American individuals)
In the US:
In the UK:
Mental health matters! It can be hard to find a professional person that you are able to and want to work with. Stay strong, and aware, friends!
Disclaimer: I am in no way professionally or personally an expert on this topic- simply an ally. Let me know if you think I am leaving out vital thoughts and/or sources!