July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to highlight the unique strengths and challenges faced by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) in relation to mental health. Named in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell, a journalist, teacher, author and mental health advocate, this month is dedicated to continuing her legacy by focusing on the mental health needs and experiences of BIPOC communities.

It is estimated that more than one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (57.8 million in 2021). Check out the most recent State of Mental Health in America report. This report ranks the prevalence of mental illness and rates of access to care of adults (a lower number is lower prevalence of mental illness and higher rates of access to care). North Dakota is ranked 24th and South Dakota 40th. The seven measures that make up the Adult Ranking include:

  1.  Adults with Any Mental Illness (AMI)
  2.  Adults with Substance Use Disorder in the Past Year
  3.  Adults with Serious Thoughts of Suicide
  4.  Adults with AMI Who Did Not Receive Treatment
  5.  Adults with AMI Reporting Unmet Need
  6.  Adults with AMI Who are Uninsured
  7.  Adults Reporting 14+ Mentally Unhealthy Days a Month Who Could Not See a Doctor Due to Costs

Fear of judgment, cultural beliefs, generational differences, and lack of access to resources often prevent people of color from addressing struggles openly and seeking the help they need. To overcome these barriers, it is essential to foster open and honest conversations about mental health. Breaking the silence is a crucial step toward healing and prioritizing mental wellness. This July, we encourage everyone to take steps towards improving mental health in BIPOC communities.mental health toolkit

The Mental Health America has created a free BIPOC Mental Health Toolkit. The toolkit contains handouts, outreach ideas, social media assets and other resources to help combat stigma, break down myths and encourage conversations about mental health.

What You Can Do:

  • Spread the word about screening. Encourage your patients and individuals in your community to check in on their mental health by taking a free, private mental health test at mhascreening.org.
  • Check-in on your own mental health at mhascreening.org. Remember – when we begin to heal ourselves, we heal our communities.
  • Identify BIPOC community-owned businesses that you can support instead of large retailers.
  • Access the 2024 BIPOC Mental Health Toolkit for additional ideas.

Let’s work together to promote mental health awareness in all BIPOC communities. Breaking the silence around mental health is the key for the start of healing. Having open and honest conversations, while respecting cultural beliefs, can break down barriers and prioritize mental health. By sharing stories, listening to others and supporting one another, we can create a more inclusive and understanding environment where mental health is prioritized for everyone.

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Health Equity – What it is and Why it is Important: Health Equity has become a priority and highly talked about topic. Familiarize yourself with what health equity is and learn about some of the different areas that influence an individual or a communities in achieving their best health.

Health Disparities – Understand the Difference in Health Outcomes: Health disparities exist in every community. Understanding how they are identified and how this information is utilized may help you understand and be aware of your communities’ efforts or needs.

Social Determinants of Health: Understand what social drivers are and how they impact the health of individuals and communities.