July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This is meant to bring attention to the fact that for many in racial and ethnic minority communities in the United States, there are unique struggles surrounding mental illness.
In the United States, there was a stigma associated with the idea of therapy or needing help to address a mental health issue. There are many reasons for this, and some are related to past standards of having a “stiff upper lip” or keeping things within the family. For many people the idea of being open about struggles (particularly emotionally or mentally) has been viewed as a weakness. Additionally, since so much of our culture has been based on appearances, no one wanted to show that they had a problem, and if someone saw a therapist, they might worry about others finding out.
Over time, for many in the United States, it has become “OK” to seek therapy.
As information has been gathered regarding mental and emotional health it has also become more available to more people, and many have become interested in learning about it. Today there are countless social media accounts devoted to promoting emotional well being and self-care.
For many minority communities; however, there is still hesitation to reach out for emotional help. Some of this hesitation comes from fear that is related to past trauma inflicted on people from minorities in the past.
There is often a lack of knowledge about mental health in many minority communities.
I used to work for an organization that helped women from diverse backgrounds, including many minorities. One African American woman who was scheduled to meet with me, emphatically told me, “I don’t have mental health!” She was very concerned that I (and others) could think that she had a problem.
It’s essential for all people to know that mental health is part of overall health. If there is a change in a person’s mental health it’s important to address it, just like we do for physical health issues. After having several conversations with the woman, I mentioned above I was able to assure her that I was 100% on her side and that I was making no assumptions about her. Slowly, we were able to address a few issues that she wanted to process.
Information about mental health is so important for all people to challenge preconceived ideas and misconceptions. I highly recommend that before a person decides not to seek help, they do some research in order to gain more understanding about mental well-being.
I encourage all people to remain open to learning about mental illness.
Part of the stigma is the idea of being diagnosed. I’ve had many clients worry about being labeled and that this would in a sense manifest it in their life. I did my best to explain that a diagnosis is not meant to be a negative thing, but rather positive, because it describes the symptoms that a person is trying to deal with – and now they can get help to address them.
For many people from minority communities, the idea of others knowing they are living with mental illness is very scary. They are afraid of being judged or of people not understanding. I have had multiple clients who worried about a diagnosis being put on a “record” that might follow them. Thankfully, more people are opening about their experience with mental illness, including many people of color and from other ethnic minorities.
Give Support to Others
One more thing for all of us to keep in mind is the idea of giving support to others when they talk about their mental health issues. Many people (not just in minority communities) feel unsure what to say if someone is in distress about emotional or mental health. Remember, there’s no “right” way to act or speak. The best idea is to simply be there for the other person and to encourage them to get the help they need. And, of course, to believe them.
If you are from a minority, I encourage you to continue to learn about what it means to be emotionally and mentally healthy. Look within to see if you have any preconceptions about therapy. Talk about it with people you trust and find out what they believe about this topic.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19
“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” Proverbs 23:18
Begin Working With A Therapist in Smyrna, GA
If you have questions about your mental or emotional health, our team of caring therapists would be happy to offer support from our Smyrna, GA-based practice. You can start your therapy journey with Remain Connected Counseling by following these simple steps:
Other Services Offered at Remain Connected Counseling
Our team knows you may experience multiple mental health issues at the same time. This is why we are happy to offer a variety of services including teen therapy, anxiety treatment, and EMDR therapy. In addition, we also offer Pastoral counseling, life transitions therapy, depression counseling, and more all under a Christian counseling lens. By using online therapy, these services are available to anyone in Georgia. Learn more about our team of dedicated therapists and contact us for more information.