Accepting the fact that there is a need for mental health services is an important step in both trying to recover or supporting someone else who is in need of assistance. There can be a lot of barriers to seeking aid — something that rings especially true for minority groups across the United States.
July marks Minority Mental Health Month, a time to draw attention to the needs of often-overlooked populations to help every person overcome these barriers in order to get the mental and emotional help they need. Denying people the chance to seek aid for problems that shouldn’t be tackled alone can lead to a destructive cycle, but this cycle is preventable.
Minority Groups Are Not the Minority
The term “minority” may sound like it’s calling attention to a small subset of people, but that isn’t the case. People from all walks of life face unique struggles each day, regardless of their access to mental health care. Minority groups include people of color, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ+ community, refugees, various religions, or even cultural and socioeconomic groups.
Members of these various communities stretch across the country — therefore, considering a minority to mean a small population is a disingenuous notion. Minority groups are a large part of our population and culture that make up the country as a whole. Acknowledging their need for judgment-free, safe mental health services is a big step in achieving that goal.
A New Kind of Struggle
Minority groups often face a number of additional struggles on top of the daily stresses of life. This is especially true today as episodes of racial strife, inequality, and police brutality are changing American conversation. Not only may minority groups feel isolated in what sets them apart, but they may also feel as if people are constantly judging them based on these differences.
This can lead to the feeling of living life under a harsh spotlight, while also not entirely belonging to the people or culture around them. It’s all very isolating and leaves little room for an emotional outlet. Some minority groups may also be less likely to open up, due to the difficulty of others understanding their situations and needs.
Bottling up one’s emotions while feeling isolated often leads people of all kinds to attempt to self-medicate in order to get a grasp on the situation — or even to just get a break from the onslaught of daily stresses they are feeling.
Walls on All Sides
In addition to the walls that someone may build around themselves, there are other external factors that make it difficult for minority groups to get the mental health care they need. There are often socioeconomic factors at play, where minorities living in poorer areas of the country are often unable to afford mental health treatment, no matter how needed it may be.
Other barriers may include some communities viewing the need for mental health treatment as taboo or a moral failing of some kind. Breaking down these perceptions is important. Regardless of where someone is in life or what culture they belong to, there are stresses and difficulties that can affect all of us.
Providing Help Before the Breaking Point
Acknowledging the unique walls that are constructed around minority groups across the country is the first step in understanding the hardships that many face when trying to get mental health treatment in the first place. Before someone can even delve into a healing process in order to cope with their anxieties, depression, or other mental health issues, there is a myriad of things blocking the path to recovery.
Prevention is the best way to mitigate these situations from escalating, but the lack of availability or access of any kind to mental health treatment means that when help is finally present, it is typically because someone is already in crisis. Getting to this point is dangerous for the person as well as the environment around them, depending on the nature of their mental health.
Being in crisis already is a very difficult time to start practicing any sort of self-care or coping techniques. How do we solve this problem? Prevention is key and has proven effective, so it’s important that these barriers be recognized and addressed before a person’s breaking point is reached.
Start a Conversation
The purpose of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is to begin a dialogue about the unique problems surrounding minorities in America and their access to mental health services. Starting a conversation occurs in two different ways — bringing more awareness to the need for cultural stigmas to be abandoned so people are not afraid to seek help, and opening a personal dialogue with minorities we know on a close, personal level to better understand the issues surrounding their communities and their lack of access to help.
This dialogue doesn’t need to have an answer or find a solution, but rather pose as an outlet to begin discussing the difficulties and show your support. It’s a time for acknowledgment that anxiety, depression, and stress are universal and that there’s no shame or guilt for seeking aid through the toughest times in life, or needing help to cope with a difficult past. Times of crisis are preventable when acceptance is practiced on a personal level.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, depression, trauma, or any other mental health issues, True Recovery is proud to create a safe, judgment-free space in order to begin the healing process. There are many people who are in need of help, and each person brings their own unique challenges that need to be addressed in a healthy environment.
Understanding and prevention are key elements in healing, and True Recovery is here to help you begin to break down the walls and stigmas that surround you in order to prevent a time of crisis. For more information about the supportive environment and programs available to you, contact True Recovery today at (866) 399-6528.