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Why do we have a BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month?: Srilekha Cherukuvada

As the inspiration for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month, Bebe Moore Campbell, journalist, author, teacher, and mental health advocate, said,"While everyone - all colors - everyone is affected by stigma - no one wants to say 'I'm not in control of my mind.' No one wants to say, 'The person I love is not in control of [their] mind.'”

“But people of color really don't want to say it because we already feel stigmatized by virtue of skin color or eye shape or accent and we don't want any more reasons for anyone to say, 'You're not good enough.'"

Everyone can deal with mental health illnesses, regardless of age, class, sex, gender, race, color or identity. Mental health conditions ignore distinction factors take control of one’s mind. Mental illnesses do not discriminate; they debilitate.

Despite this, in 2018, 58.2% of Black and African American young adults aged 18 to 25 and 50.1% of the Black and African American communities aged 26 to 49 with serious mental illness did not receive treatment. Over 7 million Black and African American individuals with mental health conditions, yet, they do not seek treatment. According to research done in 2013 by Ward, E. C., Wiltshire, J. C., Detry, M. A., & Brown, R. L, Black and African American individuals  hold concerns related to the stigma around mental health, particularly  Black and African American men. This also translates into several different BIPOC cultures, such as Asian, Asian Americans, and Hispanics. However, due to toxic masculinity and the stigma around being psychologically open, many have refused to seek help when they need it the most.

Furthermore, the extent of access to mental health care has caused tremendous issues in the communities of BIPOC. Although the Affordable Care Act uninsured individuals receive the aid they need, 11.5% of Black and African American individuals insurance in 2018. The situation worsens when looking at the statistics of other affected BIPOC groups. According to Statista, in 2018, over 27% of the Hispanic population in the US did not have health insurance, which is by far the highest percentage among the different BIPOC groups. Meanwhile, Asians are uninsured at a 7.4 percentage. The access to mental health care is not as open as it could be, not only for Black and African American individuals, but to all BIPOC communities.

Moreover, if a BIPOC individual is lucky to obtain an adequate level of health insurance, decides to seek care and is not afraid of the stigma around mental health,  the treatment they receive is far worse than a non-BIPOC individual, according to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

As an Asian American, I have dealt with this fear firsthand. The fear to speak out and seek care, the fear of mental health care costs and the fear of unfair treatment. I have an understanding on this issue that minorities are unwillingly facing. We have to fight against this and stand up for BIPOC communities. Racial injustice has gone on for far too long, not just in our justice system, but in our health care, our stores and our homes. Black Lives Matter. Black Mental Health Matters. BIPOC Mental Health Matters.

And that is why we have a BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month.

Visit the resources listed below for more information.

Mental Health America’s Toolkit

Human Rights Campaign

Plannr Consulting



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