When speaking about mental health, many people forget minority/BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) communities and how their experiences may differ from what non-minorities deem as normal. Growing up as part of the BIPOC community, it was hard finding people who understood what I was going through. Truthfully, I didn’t even know what I was going through and I had no idea other people felt similarly. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school while taking my first psychology class that I began to understand it.
Information and access to mental health should be universal, but unfortunately it is not. In many BIPOC communities, there is a stigma surrounding reaching out for help regarding mental health complications that needs to be addressed. One way to confront this problem is to have more attainable access and representation in the field. When I began looking for a therapist my Freshman year of college, the on-campus program that was available for students didn’t have a Black woman working there. It can be difficult opening up to someone who doesn’t fully understand the experiences that you have lived through. Having a counselor who can relate and help normalize your situation is SO important. Another important way to break the stigma surrounding mental health in minority communities is having easily accessible information and care regarding these issues. Some of the barriers that members of the BIPOC face in regard to accessing information and care include racism and discrimination, different cultural perspectives on mental health, greater vulnerability of being uninsured, and fear or mistrust of treatment.
Minority mental health is important because racism affects minority communities in monumental ways. This isn’t always highlighted for different communities when it comes to tackling their mental health, and that needs to change. Racism differs in many situations, from obtaining jobs and housing, to how you can expect to be treated while being pulled over by the police. BIPOC
communities deserve the opportunity to open up about their struggles with people who both understand and can help guide them through the process of healing.
Minority mental health month helps bring awareness to issues that minorities face and offers hope that things can change for the better. It is meant to tackle all of the differences that minorities face both with their mental health and in society, in a way that helps people understand that there is a different approach needed and how important being culturally competent is.
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