Mental Health: Let’s Talk About Culture, Race And Ethnicity
As Minority Mental Health Month winds down, it is important to take a step back and remind ourselves that mental illness affects us all. Minority communities are less likely to receive mental health care than whites. Minorities have a long list of disparities when it comes to mental health care from racism to lack of cultural sensitivity. It’s time to educate people mental health without disregarding the different experiences minorities may encounter.
Being Transgender Is Not a Mental Disorder
In the past, studies have shown being transgender is a form of mental illness. But recent studies argue that being transgender is a condition related to sexual health. Many found their mental illness not from the transition itself, but from the social rejection and violence that comes with being transgender. The stigma associated with the transgender community needs to come to an end just as much as mental illness.
The first time I visited a therapist, I was a new boarding student dealing with depression and suicidal ideation. I had an incident and told another student. Because of that, I was required to sit with the school therapist for an hour and talk about what I was going through.
I remember for the first half hour we only talked about my hair. I had recently gotten my hair braided so that I would be ready for this new school that was far away from home. This white woman was more concerned with my hair, our differences than she was the reason why I was there.
I remember going into that meeting expecting an opportunity to open up about going to a boarding school several states away in the middle of my high school career; instead, I met with a stranger who ultimately made me feel more isolated than I was when I walked in. This experience and others have taught me how difficult it is to be both black and mentally ill.
I come from a family of many cultures, languages, religions, and places. As a Chinese American and Ashkenazi Jew with Cherokee and Choctaw roots, I have descended from a lineage of survivors. My grandparents crossed oceans and deserts, climbed over fences and walls, all in pursuit of a better life for their families. They have told me stories about horrific times of war and violence, their struggles to survive amidst oppression, their efforts to create peace when there was none to be found.
However, we rarely speak about emotions, we seldom give hugs and kisses, we rarely say, “I love you.” We show our love through home cooked meals and faded photographs because this is the only way that my family has ever known.
I’m not sure if this is cultural, or if it is a result of my grandparents’ past traumas, but we do not discuss feelings or mental health.
Muslims are often in the news, usually as either perpetrators or victims of terrorism or as part of political discussions on immigration. The media often portrays Muslims as a racialized, monolithic “other,” though American Muslims are one of the most racially diverse religious groups in the U.S.
Unfortunately, skewed media portrayal, as well as the current political climate, can have an adverse psychological impact on American Muslims.
I recently attended a presentation at my local mosque about plans to help familiarize Muslims with mental health resources. It’s an important first step to help tackle internalized stigma against mental health issues and increase the quality of life for American Muslims.
Historically Black Colleges/Universities have and hopefully will continue to be a pinnacle in the black community. These sources of education and black empowerment across the United States have done so much for the growth and betterment of African-Americans nationwide. However, there is always room for growth; and one of those areas that are in need of growth is the elimination of stigma associated with mental illness.
It is no secret that addressing mental health in the black community, not just on our school campuses, but in the homes of black people around the world, has been a battle we’ve been fighting for years.
Why is that we put so much shame on the term “mental illness”? Why is it that we associate weakness with someone seeking professional help for something so serious and so real? Why is it that black males from ages 20 to 24 have the highest rates of suicide in the black population, yet we look down on our brother when he’s brave enough to ask for help?
White House Discusses Native American Mental Health With Youth Leaders
On July 9, the White House gathered 875 Native youth in the Tribal Youth Gathering to discuss and make change in key issues facing Native communities. One of the initiatives called the SAMHSA Tribal Youth Leaders focused on mental health and substance use.
Studies Show Your Financial Health Could Be A Good Indicator Of Your Mental Health
Researchers have noted a correlation between debt and mental health problems. Forbes suggests combatting both at the same time by recognizing the link between the two, and seeking help for both mental health and finances.
Inside The Mental Health Stigma In The Latino Community
Activist Dior Vargas discusses the stigma within the Latino community and encourages each person to become their own advocate when in comes to getting the best treatment possible.
This Is What It’s Like To Recover From An Eating Disorder During Ramadan
As Ramadan ends, Buzzfeed highlights the experiences of people in recovery from eating disorders during this month when the relationship with food, family, and Allah all intersect. Continue Reading
Coping While Black: A Season Of Traumatic News Takes A Psychological Toll
Psychologist are researching race-based trauma in light of the recent shooting in at the historically black AME church in Charleston and the burning of black churches. Microagressions, race based violence, and racism cause trauma that harms the mental health of African American, but researchers believe the official DSM definition of race based trauma is too narrow.
Why the Words We Use to Talk About Mental Health Are Important
Words like “crazy,” “bonkers,” or “psycho” that demonize people living with mental health conditions only promote the stigma that prevents people from seeking the life saving treatment they need. This VICE opinion piece echoes Active Minds’ mission and argues that “showing kindness and sensitivity in the language we use should not be a grave imposition on our being – it should be a basic requirement of our humanity.”
Why Gay Marriage is Good for a Person’s Mental Health
A study from 2010 showed that people who identified as gay residing in states where same-sex marriage was banned experienced higher rates of mental health disorders. Since gay marriage is now legal in all states thanks to the Supreme Court, this reporter hopes that mental health outcomes for LGBT people will improve.
UC Davis Psychiatrist Discusses Mental Health Stigma among Immigrant
Cultural stigma in immigrant communities prevent many from getting treatment. Dr. Russell Lim, a leading psychiatrist who focuses on the stigma in refugee populations, discusses how language determines how one describe mental health disorders, the importance of linkages to the communities, and the benefits of seeking treatment. This is an especially important read during Minority Mental Health Month (#MMHM).