While May was Mental Health Awareness Month, July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The reason for the specificity is to recognize racism’s enormous impact on mental health.
Minority stress is the stress experienced by marginalized groups from repeated discrimination and oppression. Often, many factors compound on one another, making maintaining mental health difficult. For instance, housing discrimination and redlining makes it more difficult for Black people to accumulate wealth; low-income Black people are more likely to be without a financial safety net, while experiencing fear of violence from everyday encounters like a traffic stop on top of dealing with microaggressions.
According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, Black adults in the US are more likely than white adults to report emotional distress, sadness, and feelings of hopelessness. Minority stress increases with each intersection of marginalized identities. For instance, a study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that LGBTQIA people who experienced more than one form of discrimination (for instance, sexuality and race), were four times more likely to have an addiction.
Tailoring Treatment to People’s Needs
Being BIPOC isn’t all trauma; it’s important to have more representations in pop culture of People of Color living their lives joyfully, because this is part of being BIPOC as well. But it’s also important to recognize that BIPOC face unique stressors that may impact mental health—and also treatment.
For instance, recognizing and changing negative thought patterns—which is done in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—is helpful for someone who is engaging in all-or-nothing thinking or other cognitive distortions; it can feel gaslighting for someone who is struggling with their mental health due to racial oppression. Changing your thoughts won’t change the systemic issues.
In that case, something like trauma therapy might be more useful than CBT. It’s okay to ask people what they need when treating them or sharing resources.
This month is an important reminder that everyone’s lived experience is different and contributes to their mental health. Having empathy includes understanding the forces that impact a person in their day-to-day life—and it leads to better care.
If you are struggling with a mental health disorder or substances use disorders, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for mental health disorders and addiction in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you build lasting recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.