Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with some type of mental illness — approximately 51.5 million people. Of that number, only 23 million received mental health services (44.8%). Reasons for not receiving support and treatment may include, but are not limited to: apprehension, misinformation, stigmas, fear of judgment, and financial or insurance barriers. Moreover, systems are often ill-equipped to meet the needs of people of all backgrounds and identities. Racial bias, cultural stigmas around mental illness, and a lack of mental health care providers from diverse cultural backgrounds may impede individuals from communities of color from being able to access behavioral health care that is effective for them.
July is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Month (BIPOC MHM). It was first recognized in 2008 and officially designated as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell, an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who dedicated herself to addressing the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented groups. Today it aims to improve access to mental health treatment and services and promote public awareness of mental illness among BIPOC.
At NCALL, we engage with communities to break down systemic barriers that prevent survivors of abuse from living in safety and dignity. That includes ensuring that services — including mental health services — are accessible to people of all backgrounds and identities. To commemorate BIPOC MHM, we encourage you to check out Mental Health America’s 2021 toolkit which highlights mental health supports created by and for BIPOC. The toolkit examines community-developed systems of support created to fill in gaps within traditional systems that may overlook cultural and historical factors impeding BIPOC mental health. It also explores three topic areas: community care, self-directed care, and cultural care, and why these types of care are valid and valuable choices people can make for their mental health.
Other suggested reading:
- Mental Health and Communities of Color Research Brief by Kimberlyn Leary, Ph.D., Senior Vice President at the Urban Institute
- Stereotypes and Seeking Care in a Racialized America by Diana Chao
Find help and support:
- Find crisis support at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline
- Access support resources from the National Mental Health Alliance
- Locate mental health support in your area by contacting Mental Health America
 2019 statistics furnished by National Institute of Mental Health, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness#part_154787