Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

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Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

By: Syrenia Johnson

Here are groups that are labeled as minorities in the United States. 
•    Native American/Alaskan Native (28.3% are living with a mental health condition)
•    Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (often combined with the category above)
•    Black/African American (18.6 are living with a mental health condition)
•    Hispanic/Latina (16.3% are living with a mental health condition)
•    Asian American (13.9% are living with a mental health condition)
*Percentages include data only from individual diagnosed with a mental health condition or seeking treatment for a mental health condition.

Let’s get a bit more specific. In fact, approximately 7.5 million African Americans have a diagnosed mental illness, and up to 7.5 million more may be affected but are undiagnosed. African Americans are 20% more likely to experience mental illness due to trauma, systemic racism, and societal stress. Although the African American community is diverse, the commonality of these aspects is widespread. 

To be even more specific, statistics show that Black women are taking care of everyone but self. The Strong Black Woman (SBW) ideal is a complex, culturally grounded ideology that is rooted in Black women’s strength, tenacity, and caretaking abilities. Although embracing this ideal is believed to be helpful for Black women’s survival and self-efficacy, it may also be detrimental to their self-care behaviors, as it expects Black women to prioritize others’ needs above their own. Acknowledging this, researchers have begun exploring the ways in which the SBW and other stereotypes affect Black women’s development. They have reported links between the SBW ideal and diminished mental health and physical well-being. Women may be over-represented in these populations given the reported 2:1 gender ratio of depression. 

Additionally, negative sociopolitical experiences including racism, discrimination, and sexism put African American women at risk for low-income jobs, multiple role strain, and health problems, all of which are associated with the onset of mental illness. Older African American women may be at particularly high risk for developing a mental illness due to disability from chronic medical conditions, caregiver strain, social isolation, bereavement, exposure to traumatic events (elder abuse, violence, living in crime-ridden neighborhoods), and poor access to health care. Black women experience SPECIFIC cultural issues.

Let’s practice some self-care ladies! Take time out of each day to turn off your phone, meditate, pray, get active, adhere to those office hours, wine down (LITERALLY), and relax. If you are experiencing chronic issues, it’s ok to not be ok. Seek help and lean on your support system. Finding a counselor, therapist, or life coach is easy with TherapyforBlackGirls.com. There are even blogs and social media platforms connected to it. Don’t suffer in silence!