National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
Did you know that July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?
While the term ‘minority’ is traditionally associated with racial, ethnic, or cultural minorities, Mental Health America (MHA) and its affiliates, like the Mental Health Association in Passaic County is focused on expanding this term to include individuals from a wide-range of marginalized and underserved communities. This includes the LGBTQ+ spectrum, refugee and immigrant groups, religious groups, and others who are often overlooked.
By making this term more inclusive, we are broadening our way of thinking and underscoring the need to address mental health issues with a unique lens while integrating the varied needs of diverse communities.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
- Over 70% of Black/African American adolescents with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment for their condition.
- Almost 25% of adolescents with a major depressive episode in the last year were Hispanic/Latino.
- Asian American adults were less likely to use mental health services than any other racial/ethnic groups.
- In the past year, nearly 1 in 10 American Indian or Alaska Native young adults had serious thoughts of suicide.
- In the past year, 1 in 7 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adults had a diagnosable mental illness.
Several large-scale studies have also shown *
- Higher rates of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and substance use or dependence in lesbian and gay youth.
- Higher rates of recurrent major depression among gay men.
- Higher rates of anxiety, mood and substance use disorders, and suicidal thoughts among people ages 15 to 54 with same-sex partners.
- Higher use of mental health services in men and women reporting same-sex partners.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) community faces mental health conditions just like the rest of the population community experiences more negative mental health outcomes due to prejudice, harassment, discrimination and family rejection. Finding mental health providers that are inclusive and sensitive to these issues is a real challenge.
Here is some information from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Here are some ideas to help locate an LQBTQ-inclusive provider:
- Use the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association’s Provider Directory to look through a list of inclusive medical providers.
- Check out the Healthcare Equality Index to find the LGBTQ inclusive policies of organization leaders in healthcare.
- Review resources on the rights and experiences of LGBTQ people in mental health care, including the Center for American Progress and the National Transgender Discrimination Survey.
- Ask friends and local LGBTQ centers for referrals or suggestions of LGBTQ-friendly healthcare providers.
- Call ahead and ask if a provider you are considering has any LGBTQ patients.
- If you are uncomfortable about coming out and being open with your provider, bring a trusted friend or family member with you to your appointment.
Tips For Talking To Your Provider
- If you feel comfortable, come out when you meet with your provider.
- Ask questions about the provider’s experience working with LGBTQ people.
- Be confident about disclosing relevant information about your sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
- Be open about your thoughts and feelings of depression, suicide, anxiety, fear and self-harm.
- Ask for more information about any health-care-related referrals, including to other therapists and psychiatrists.
Support & Resources
If you are experiencing a mental health condition, it’s possible to take control of your health care and improve your chance of recovery. There are a number of resources available:
- The Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling offers a list of resources for LGBT individuals and works to educate counseling professionals on LGBT issues.
- The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists offers numerous resources for LGBT people who are experiencing mental health conditions, including a directory of LGBT-friendly therapists.
- The Center for American Progress offers a variety of resources, including a report called Why the Gay and Transgender Population Experiences Higher Rates of Substance Use.
- The GLBT National Help Center provides multiple resources and access to a hotline and a youth chat line.
- GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) provides an annual report called the National School Climate Survey, which reports on the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in U.S. schools.
- The Pride Institute is an unlocked, LGBT-exclusive facility that offers a residential treatment program, including psychiatric care for depression, anxiety and other needs.
- The Rainbow Access Initiative works to inform and educate health care providers on LGBTQ specific issues.
- The Trevor Project is a multimedia support network for LGBTQ youth providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
* Several large population-based public health studies are discussed in the November American Psychologist (Vol. 56, No. 11) by Susan Cochran, PhD, an epidemiologist in the University of California, Los Angeles