By Angela Jenkins, Wellness Consultant, AllOne Health
July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and an opportunity for all of us to learn more about mental health and how it impacts different minority groups.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mental health encompasses your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects your feelings, thoughts, and actions and is a determinant in managing stress, making healthy choices, and managing relationships with others.
But according to the Office of Minority Health, some minority groups face many additional challenges to their mental health, which are reflected in the following statistics from the CDC:
- In 2020, among African Americans ages 15-24, suicide was the third leading cause of death.
- In 2019, among Asian/Pacific Islanders ages 15-24, suicide was the leading cause of death.
- In 2018, Asians were 60% less likely to receive mental health treatment, compared to non-Hispanic whites.
- In 2019, among American Indian/Alaska Natives between the ages of 10 and 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death.
- 60% of American Indian/Alaska Natives were more likely to experience the feeling that everything was an effort, all or most of the time as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
- In 2019, suicide was the leading cause of death for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders ages 15-24.
- In 2019, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were three times less likely to receive mental health services or prescriptions for mental health treatment as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
What you can do personally
There are many things we can all do to make a positive impact on our mental health. Practicing self-care and incorporating healthy behaviors can help support your mental health. Here are a few examples:
- Journaling can be an effective way to manage feelings, emotions, and stress as well as increase personal awareness and perspectives. The next time you feel overwhelmed, try to write down what you are thinking and feeling. A lot of times, you will feel an immediate release of stress just because you have gotten it out of your mind and onto paper.
- Control what you can control: If you overhear or are confronted by a stereotype or an uncomfortable situation, use that as an opportunity to raise awareness and gently correct them. If you don’t feel comfortable, walk away from the situation, and share your experience with someone you trust.
- Physical activity can reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms. It can also be effective in reducing stress, increasing physical and mental energy, and enhancing overall well-being. Aim to get 20-30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. This can be broken into two 10-minute sessions or two 15-minute sessions to receive the same benefits.
- Being mindful and focusing on the present moment has been shown to reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms and negative thoughts. Mindfulness has also been shown to increase sleep quality, lower blood pressure, and assist with a positive outlook. Try this: The next time someone is talking to you, focus on the words they are saying and try to eliminate the other thoughts going on in your mind. See if you notice any difference.
What you can do within the community
- Raise awareness through social media: USDHHS – Office of Minority Health has sharable graphics you can use to help de-stigmatize and normalize Minority Mental Health.
- Educate yourself and share your findings with others you trust: Read a book or watch a documentary on other cultures and ethnicities to see how mental health affects their community. Go one step further and share your findings with loved ones.
- Ask questions: If you are unsure about something related to another’s culture or practices, it’s okay to ask questions as that’s a much better option than making assumptions.
- Look within your community: Find non-profit businesses or groups that promote mental health awareness for minorities and volunteer your time.
For more information, please refer to the following:
- Minority Mental Health – Office of Minority Health
- Human Rights Campaign
- National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network
If you’re looking for additional help, reach out to your Assistance Program for Member Support. Or, if your organization is considering a Wellness Program, AllOne Health also offers a variety of Wellness Solutions to fit your needs and goals.
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