Arlington, Va. — National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month begins today, Friday, July 1, offering an opportunity to civic leaders and national and local media to spotlight mental health issues affecting African American, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latino and Native American communities.
This year's observance comes 10 years after the U.S. Surgeon General published the report Mental Health: Culture, Race and Ethnicity in August 2001.
"National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is a time for education, support and advocacy," said Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
"One in four Americans experiences mental health problems in any given year. Diverse minority communities are no exception."
The Surgeon General's report warned that minorities:
- Are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for mental illness
- Have less access to mental health services
- Often receive poorer quality health care
- Are underrepresented in mental health research.
"Ten years later, the same problems remain," Fitzpatrick said. "The mental health care system needs to make greater progress for all of the people who make up our nation."
In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives proclaimed National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in honor of Bebe Moore Campbell, one of the leading African American writers of the 20th century, who died in 2006.
Moore was a NAMI national spokesperson, co-founder of the NAMI Urban Los Angeles affiliate and an instructor in NAMI's Family-to-Family education program.
This year's observance also coincides with the NAMI National Convention in Chicago, July 6-9.
NAMI's Multicultural Action Center will offer several sessions at the convention. Including one discussing a "listening session" report released earlier this year on Asian American mental health needs and an all-day community event in Spanish, "Caminando Hacia el Bienestar Mental" (Moving Toward Mental Health).
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- Study: Depression treatment less likely for minority adolescents
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