Addressing Stigmas around Minorities and Mental Health
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and a good time to reach out to those who may be struggling
By Robin Henderson-Wiley, Chief Operating Officer. Webster’s defines Minority as a part of a population differing from others in some characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment. The differential treatment is often characterized via discrimination, prejudices and stigmas. Stigmas can be defined as negative connotations, preconceived notions or judgments passed on a person usually based on a lack of understanding about the individual or their circumstances. Stigmas can also be attached to specific issues like mental illness and substance abuse. Those stigmas include but are not limited to:
- It is specific to race or gender
- It only impacts those who are economically disadvantaged and have low IQ’s.
- It only impacts Individuals who suffer from mental illness, are weak and lack willpower.
Mental Illness is often characterized by its stigmas; however, Mental illness is defined as health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (and/or a combination of these). It is associated with distress and/or problems functioning in a social, work or family activities. All three of these terms individually and collectively describe what we are experiencing in our world today.
COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting minorities.
Many stigmas about minorities are playing out in the form of longstanding racism and police brutality and mental illness has plagued us in the form of many tragedies in both our educational system and everyday life. In each of these situations, lives have been lost, families have been devastated and the United States has become increasingly divided.
Minority Mental Health Awareness month is a time to be reminded that being a minority is neither a moral failure or a treatable disease. However, mental illness is a treatable disease and no one deserves to suffer in silence or isolation. If you know of someone in need, it is imperative that you open a dialog with them about seeking assistance, or at the very least, open your mind to be receptive to their struggles so they do not feel alone.
To get help or refer someone in need, please call SouthLight at 919-787-6131. The first step is a phone call and assessment.
Minority Mental Health by the numbers According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the CDC:
- In 2017, 10.5% (3.5 million) of young adults age 18 to 25 had serious thoughts of suicide including 8.3% of non-Hispanic blacks and 9.2% of Hispanics.
- In 2017, 7.5% (2.5 million) of young adults age 18 to 25 had a serious mental illness including 7.6% of non-Hispanic Asians, 5.7% of Hispanics and 4.6% of non-Hispanic blacks.
- Feelings of anxiety and other signs of stress may become more pronounced during a global pandemic.
- People in some racial and ethnic minority groups may respond more strongly to the stress of a pandemic or crisis.