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In awareness of National Minority Mental Health Month (April) I want to point out some stats:
According to the National Institute of Mental Illness the adults most likely to use mental health services in the past year (17.1%) were in the group reporting two or more races. This group was followed by white adults (16.6%), American Indian or Alaska Native adults (15.6%), followed by black (8.6), Hispanic (7.3) and Asian (4.9%) adults.
Culture plays a crucial role in treatment and ‘way of life’. Personally, I understand that mental health treatnment for many immigrants is often times an unattainable luxury, especially for those suffering from depression or anxiety.
Gays, lesbian and transgender youth are at a high risk of mental illness due to homophobia and internal conflicts.
It is without questioning that these groups are among some of the most vulnerable to mental illness. The question therefore is, what can we do to better help individuals from minority groups. What can we do as organizers, providers and individually?
NAMI gives us some careful instructions as to how we can assist different minority groups. I chose three very important ones, listed below:
Education – For both patients and providers. Providers who are trained in cultural copmpetence are better able to administer treatment in a respectful and relatable way. At the same time research shows that patients who are educated about treatment and understand their treatment are better able to manage their diagnosis.
Safe space – And this one is especially important for minority youth. Safe spaces are obviously necessary. One of the reasons why I was able to transition through treatment was because I knew that I had a safe space to vent and a community of supportive peers. If you are alone or feel threatened by your immediate environment [whether you are gay, bi or transgender] having people around whoa re relatable can be of tremendous benefit.
Legal Status – Sometime the fear of deportation prevents many people from seeking help. But I am grateful to live a state that looks out for the immigrant community, esp those that are undocumented or uninsured. Institutions such as the International Institute of Coonecticut provides viable ways for undocumented immigrants to gain legal status and the NAMI has opened its doors to immigrant groups, especially youth so they can access treatment.
To Learn more about hopw we can reach out to and help minority groups, I encourage you to follow this link: http://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/Latino-Mental-Health
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