July is National Minority MentalHealth Awareness Month

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By Francis Taylor, Executive Editor

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is observed each July to bring awareness to the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Racial and ethnic minorities often suffer from poor mental health outcomes due to multiple factors, including lack of access to quality mental health care services, cultural stigma surrounding mental health care, discrimination, and overall lack of awareness about mental health.

The HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) is committed to advancing Better Mental Health Through Better Understanding for racial and ethnic minority communities by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health care services, information, and resources. OMH has developed the following resources for health care providers and professionals:

1, E-Learning Program: Improving Cultural Competency for Behavioral Health Professionals

2. Guide: Behavioral Health Implementation Guide for the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health and Health Care 

3. Webinar: Advancing Behavioral Health Equity: National CLAS Standards in Action 

4. Webinar: Trauma and COVID-19: Addressing Mental Health Among Racial/Ethnic Minority Populations.

Following is a Minority Mental Health Disparities Snapshot:

In 2021, it is estimated that only 39 percent of Black or African American adults, 25 percent of Asian adults, and 36 percent of Hispanic/Latino adults with any mental illness were treated, compared to 52 percent of non-Hispanic white adults.

One study suggests that Hispanic men who identify as LGBTQI+ experience higher rates of body image disorders than Hispanic women, Black and African American men and women, and white men and women who identify as LGBTQI+.

According to the Veterans Health Administration Department of Veterans Affairs, American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans report experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at double the rate of non-Hispanic white Veterans – 20.5 percent compared to 11.6 percent.

In 2020, suicide was the leading cause of death among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders aged 10 to 19; it was the second leading cause of death among those aged 20 to 34.

Following are symptoms of mental disorders in older adults: noticeable changes in mood, energy level or appetite; feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions; too much or too little sleep; difficulty concentrating or feeling restless; increased worry or feeling stressed; anger, irritability, or aggressiveness; ongoing headaches, digestive issues or pain; misuse of alcohol or drugs; sadness or hopelessness; thoughts of death or suicide, engaging in high-risk activities; and, obsessive thinking o compulsive behavior.

You may learn more about the Better Health Through Better Understanding theme, which focuses on increasing health literacy, providing culturally competent care, and improving access to health care information for individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP) by visiting OMH’s National Minority Health Month page.

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