Every July, AAHP observes Minority Mental Health Month with the Department of Health and Human Services to raise awareness and support Blacks/African Americans living with mental health conditions. Blacks/African Americans are 20% more likely than White Americans to report significant emotional distress and are less likely to receive treatment or therapy. The stigma of mental illness and lack of access to care result in countless Blacks/African Americans suffering from mental illnesses and having no idea where to turn or what resources are available to them.
Fortunately, the stigma is decreasing as more and more people understand that having a mental illness doesn’t make a person less deserving of love and respect. As more celebrities and influencers (such as actress Taraji P. Henson, actress Jennifer Lewis and rapper Kid Cudi) go public with their own stories of mental health challenges, we’ll continue to see even more progress toward destigmatizing mental illness and more people will get the help they need.
We can each help by being compassionate and supportive of those who have been impacted by mental illness (including yourself). When someone makes a disrespectful remark regarding mental illness, or people with mental illnesses, let them know that their comments add to stigma and make it harder for people with mental health conditions to get help. Remind them that they wouldn’t disrespect or make fun of someone with a chronic disease like cancer or diabetes, so they shouldn’t do so with mental illness. As we fight to end the stigma surrounding mental illness, one of the best ways we can help is by being mindful about how we talk about it.