National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was created to “bring awareness to the unique challenges that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States” (U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, n.d).
As an aspiring social worker it is important that I not only learn, but also reflect on the importance of Minority Mental Health and understand what these unique challenges are. From both research and personal experience I have learned that a large portion of these challenges are centered around the lack of access to overall health services including mental health services that minority groups face and the different cultural beliefs of what “mental health” means.
For instance, growing up I attended school in a minority dominant community, where many of my friend’s parents did not understand or believe in their children needing mental health services. As an adolescent I did not fully grasp what my friends meant when they said their parents “didn’t believe” that they struggled with their mental health. However as I have grown up and done cultural research and continued to live in the same community I have learned that there are many cultures whose beliefs are that mental health does not exist and services are unnecessary. Now, this is not to say that every minority racial and ethnic group does not believe in using or needing mental health services, it is more to share personal experience on the unique challenges that I have witnessed growing up in the community I did.
The second large portion to the unique challenges that minority groups face regarding mental health is that when services are sought out access is often very limited. From health insurance being unattainable to financial resources having to go to other aspects of life, minorities who seek mental health services are often unable to receive them, which only makes it harder to change the cultural beliefs and stigma surrounding mental health.
That said, as I continue my journey to becoming a social worker ensuring that I continue understand all aspects of Minority Mental Health, and work to aid in spreading awareness, education, and working to increase Minority access to mental health services is not only important, but necessary.
Reference: U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health. n.d. National minority mental health awareness month 2023. https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/minority-mental-health/