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July was designated as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to shed light on the hardships that minority groups face when seeking support for mental illness within the United States.
As per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH): “Despite advances in health equity, disparities in mental health care persist. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use emergency departments, and more likely to receive lower quality care. Poor mental health care access and quality contribute to poor mental health outcomes, including suicide, among racial and ethnic minority populations.”
The HHS Office of Minority Health encourages all of their partners to educate their community about the importance of improving access to mental health care and treatment and to help break down other barriers such as negative perceptions about mental illness.
Depression does not discriminate. Neither should we.
Several campaigns running this month in support of Minority Mental Health awareness, two of the most visible ones are by Mental Health America: “#DepthOfMyIdentity” Campaign and by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): “#WhyCare.”
Mental Health America recognizes that the term ‘minority’ is traditionally associated with an individual’s racial, ethnic, or cultural background, they have started the #DepthOfMyIdentity Campaign to expand our collective views of a minority to include all marginalized and under-served communities. This can consist of the LGBTQ+ community, elders, or anyone else who is overlooked or whose mental illness is attributed to other aspects.
Mental Health America feels that this line of thinking broadens our efforts to “address mental health issues with a unique lens while integrating the varied needs of diverse communities.”
On their website, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains that “Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity and that anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background.” They expound on this by clarifying that a person’s background and identity, however, can actually decrease their ability to treat their mental health due to less access to care, cultural stigma, and lower quality care. To start changing this, NAMI started the “#WhyCare” campaign in support of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
Expanding our understanding of late-life depression.
Late-life Depression in elderly is not uncommon and according to WebMD.com, “affects about 6 million Americans ages 65 and older. But only 10% receive treatment for depression.” There are several reasons for this and the most prevalent include:
The National Institute of Mental Health considers depression in people age 65 and older to be a major public health problem.
For More Information about Depression:
American Psychological Association
www.apa.orgDepression and Bipolar Support Alliance
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Mental Health America
National Institute of Mental Health
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255 (toll-free/24 hours a day)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Sources: WebMD.com: Depression In the Elderly; NIH National Institute of Aging: Depression and Older Adults; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Mental Health America; AHRQ: 2017 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report