July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month: Here’s why it matters

Formally known as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, July is BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) Mental Health Awareness Month. 

I’d like to share a bit of history, tell you why it matters, and give tips on how you too can get involved in this important cause.

The Origin of BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month 

Bebe Moore Campbell passed away in 2006, but her legacy lives on through the efforts of mental health advocates who have gladly picked up the torch.

What BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Means to Me

Employed within this organization were individuals who had lived experience with neurodivergence or other disabilities or were educated in the area of neurodivergence, social work, or early childhood and secondary education.

This should have been a safe place for me to disclose my diagnosis. We represented several children and teens with bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety, after all. But, as a young Black woman in an office full of older white women, I learned that it was not a safe place at all. Unfortunately, I did not learn this until after I had disclosed it.

I would watch as they rallied around a white co-worker who battled depression and anxiety while I was being told to “suck it up and do your job.” Attempting to speak up for myself was always met with accusations of me having an attitude problem which Black women are often accused of when trying to advocate for themselves. 

It became clear that it was “me against them” and that I had no voice there.

Why BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month Should Matter to All

“While everyone – all colors – everyone is affected by stigma – no one wants to say ‘I’m not in control of my mind.’ No one wants to say, ‘The person I love is not in control of [their] mind.’ But people of color really don’t want to say it because we already feel stigmatized by virtue of skin color or eye shape or accent and we don’t want any more reasons for anyone to say, ‘You’re not good enough.’”

Bebe Moore Campbell

BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month matters because it shines a light on the unique mental health challenges faced by people of color. It also recognizes the resilience and tenacity of these various cultures fighting to have their voices heard.

You can easily google the statistics and find several studies that show how Black, indigenous, and other people of color are significantly more likely to receive inadequate mental health treatment—if they receive any care at all. This is due to things like shame and embarrassment, poverty and insufficient access to medical care, cultural ignorance, and, yes, blatant racism to name a few.

Raising awareness about the mental health needs and disparities in BIPOC communities helps people know that they are not alone and that there is help available to them. It also helps the white counterparts who are willing to listen begin to understand why struggles faced by BIPOC communities are considered unique and not necessarily like their own.

I know I’m not alone in my own experience of feeling pushed aside due to my diagnosis and the color of my skin. This is why BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month matters. This is why it should matter to all.

Ways to Get Involved in BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

Whether you’re an individual living with mental illness or someone whose life has been impacted by mental illness in another way, you can get involved in the effort to spread awareness about the unique challenges faced by BIPOC communities as well as support their resilience in spite of those challenges in a number of ways. Here are some suggestions.

Get  the Mental Health America BIPOC Mental Health Month Toolkit 

The 29-page toolkit contains the historical contexts, barriers to well-being, cultural beliefs, and strength and resiliency factors of the following BIPOC communities:

  • American Indian/Alaska Native
  • Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim/South Asian
  • Asian/Pacific
  • Black/African American
  • Latinx/Hispanic
  • Multiracial

The toolkit also contains shareable social media graphics, as well as tips and worksheets to help individuals with talking to their loved ones about mental health and choosing the best mental health care provider for them.

Share the BIPOC Mental Health Resource List

The BIPOC Mental Health Resource List is a six-page pdf chock full of general mental health resources (webpages, webinars, infographics, etc.) from MHA. It also contains culturally specific resources for each of the BIPOC communities previously mentioned.

How’s Your Own Mental Well-Being?

Check on your mental well-being from the privacy of your own home. Take one of MHA’s quick online screening tests.  

MHA Mental Health Test home screen.

The screenings take just a few minutes and, when you’re done, MHA gives you your result with tips for finding support that works for you, if applicable.

Share Your Story to Encourage Others

Perhaps you’re like me: someone who has lived experience with a chronic mental illness, doing the work to live in spite of that illness. Maybe also like me, you want to inspire others with similar stories to shed the shame and come out of hiding.

A Quick Word About Shame

Of course, you don’t have to share your story. This is merely a suggestion, after all. But, if your reason for not wanting to share your story is because you’re ashamed, let me encourage you.

I have met a number of women (and some men) who have told me that they were encouraged by something I’d written or shared about my journey. This brings me joy and great solace when I need it. I refuse to be silenced by shame.

Again, you don’t have to share your story if you don’t want to. But, please don’t let shame be the reason. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

Educate Yourself

Research various mental health conditions, courses of treatment, and the best ways to interact with or help someone who is having a mental health crisis or other challenges.

Listen Without Judgment

If you know someone living with mental health challenges, take the time to listen to them with empathy and without judgment. Sit with them as they sit with their feelings and just be.

Contact Your Congressman/Congresswoman

Is there anything you would add to this list? Do you have lived experience with mental illness? Is there someone close to you who lives with a mental illness? How have you been a bright light to them? 

Feel free to share your story in the comments. I am listening.

Thank you for visiting
Resilience Everyday

ResilienceEveryday.com is a mompreneur mental health and lifestyle blog. We regularly post about mental health awareness, parenting with a mental illness, special needs parenting, and the mompreneur lifestyle. CLICK HERE to join the mailing list today and never miss a post or the latest news on book launches, product releases, events, and more.

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4 responses to “July is BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month: Here’s why it matters”

  1. An excellent post, thank you for feeling you could choose to share your mental health journey here. How short-sighted and racist of those colleagues somewhere you should have felt safe; it’s wonderful that you’ve used that experience to advocate for others. Here in the UK, Black people (I was going to say Global Majority People but checking stats, no, it’s Black people in particular) are statistically either pushed away or given harsher mental health interventions (being sectioned, i.e. put in hospital against their will, etc.) by the authorities. There is a culture of not accessing MH services within some sectors of Black communities (pointed out memorably in Candice Carty-Williams’ novel “Queenie”) but also this pressure from the mainly White medical professions, fed into by the myths you mention like the Angry Black Woman. There is now some campaigning around for example the risks Black women face in pregnancy and childbirth so hopefully lobbying for equity in mh services will follow.
    Some resources for your UK readers – the ILPA (immigration law practitioners’ association) has a good page with lots of links to campaigning and support organisations https://ilpa.org.uk/members-area/working-groups/well-being-new/well-being-resource-hub/mental-health-resources-for-black-people-and-poc/

    Liked by 1 person

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