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Mental health problems do not distinguish on the basis of color, race, gender, or identity. Regardless of the background, anyone can face mental health issues. However, access to mental health support and treatment can be identified based on people’s background, making the access difficult for some and not for others. In 2008, July was declared to be National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

In America, each year, millions of people go through the reality of mental health problems. These conditions are increased in many communities due to the lack of access to healthcare, cultural stigma, and low-quality support. Studies in the US show that racial minority groups show higher levels of suicidal tendencies, anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. Sadly, in most cases, it stems from the society’s deep-rooted prejudice towards the minatory groups, which leads them to feel rejection and estrangement.

“People of color, particularly African Americans, feel the
stigma more keenly. In a race-conscious society, some don’t want to
be perceived as having yet another deficit.” – Bebe Moore Campbell

Access to Mental Health Care
Gaining access to mental health care is so hard for many, especially for the racial minority groups. Moreover, the increased stigma attached to mental health conditions escalates the fear of being thought less of. Even though the National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month has been established for many years, however, it’s a sad state that the national statistics show that we have a long way to provide equal rights and eliminate racial inequalities in mental health services.

Speaking up
If you feel anxiety or any distress, say something, to somebody. When we cut ourselves off from a potential confidant, it can lead to social isolation, especially when we need it the most. Social isolation can further trigger the feelings of loneliness, which then worsens the mental health conditions. If we look at it from a bigger context, we’d understand that we do not have to face these problems alone. Reach out to your natural support network and speak up!

Here are three ways to work on your mental health:

  • Listen to your heart and promise to acknowledge your feelings and take better care of yourself.
  • Collect the courage to talk to just one person, whenever you find yourself getting distressed about something, or even when you feel the need to just share.
  • Connect with people who advocate the policies for the mental health rights of people of color. Collective efforts, based on shared goals and identity, can go a long way and help initiate the change.

Acting on these recommendations is not going to be easy at all. We all struggle with such feelings, but taking the step to put in the hard work is going to make it better for each one of us.

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