July is recognized as Bebe Moore National Minority Mental Health Awareness month, also known as BIPOC Mental Health Awareness month. It is a time dedicated to shedding light on the distinctive mental health challenges faced by the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) community. Understanding these challenges is crucial in order to provide appropriate support and create inclusive spaces for healing and well-being. In this article, we will explore some of the factors influencing mental health within the BIPOC community and discuss ways we can foster support and awareness.

Factors Influencing Mental Health in BIPOC Communities

Racism

Systemic racism, discrimination, intergenerational trauma, and microaggressions can have a profound impact on mental health and have also led to disparities in the prevalence and quality of healthcare within BIPOC communities. While, statistically, POC experience depression and anxiety at similar rates to Whites, symptoms tend to be more severe and last for a longer period of time. For example, a 2019 study found that Black individuals, in particular, have the highest risk for a “lifetime prevalence” of PTSD. 

Younger populations are not exempt from racism when it surrounds mental health. Statistically, minority youths exhibiting behavioral problems or symptoms of a mental health disorder are far more likely to be punished in school or incarcerated than to receive appropriate evaluation and treatment. In fact, the most recent survey found that Black children were four times as likely to be detained than their White peers; Indigenous youths were three times as likely, and Hispanics 61 percent more likely. Meanwhile, up to 75 percent of children in the juvenile system meet the criteria for a mental health disorder.  

Stigma and Cultural Barriers

Stigma surrounding mental health continues to be a significant hurdle within the BIPOC community. Cultural factors, such as the emphasis on collectivism, resilience, and the fear of judgment, can deter individuals from seeking help. Additionally, cultural mistrust due to historical mistreatment within healthcare systems can further discourage individuals from accessing mental health support. 

Lack of Access to Culturally Competent Care

The relative scarcity of mental health professionals from diverse backgrounds has also contributed to the disparities in care among BIPOC individuals. Many patients would rather not go to the doctor at all than see one who has no knowledge or experience with their cultural norms, history, and language. 

To compensate for a shortage of BIPOC doctors (a factor that we must also acknowledge is due to systemic racism), many non-minority medical professionals are choosing to receive cultural competency training. Although this is a fairly recent concept, it is showing promising results. A review of seven separate studies found that cultural competency training among healthcare professionals increased patient satisfaction among minority patients to a significant degree. 

Intersectionality and Unique Challenges

Intersectionality plays a significant role in shaping mental health experiences within the BIPOC community. Individuals who identify with multiple marginalized groups, such as Black women or LGBTQ+ people of color, face compounded challenges due to intersecting forms of discrimination. Recognizing and addressing these unique struggles is crucial in fostering inclusive support networks.

Promoting Support and Awareness for BIPOC Mental Health

Supporting the mental health needs of the BIPOC community requires collective efforts. Here are some ways we can make a positive impact:

Education and Awareness: Promote understanding of the unique mental health challenges faced by the BIPOC community (as discussed above) through education and open discussions. Encourage individuals to educate themselves about cultural differences and the impact of systemic racism on mental health.

Culturally Competent Services: Advocate for the provision of culturally competent mental health services that respect and integrate diverse cultural backgrounds. Encourage the recruitment and training of mental health professionals from various communities.

Community Support: Foster safe spaces and support networks within BIPOC communities to encourage open dialogue about mental health. Organizations and community leaders can organize events, workshops, and support groups to address mental health issues.

Policy Changes: Advocate for policies that address healthcare disparities, improve access to mental health resources, and promote inclusivity within healthcare systems. Support initiatives that aim to dismantle systemic racism and promote equity.

Inclusive Mental Health Services in Destin

Although July is dedicated to the discussion of mental health within the BIPOC community, this is an issue that should be a priority year-round. At the Crane Center, our providers continuously strive to educate themselves about how we can best support the needs of our underserved populations. We understand that respect for one’s culture and identity is a basic human right, and it is paramount in achieving positive mental health outcomes. If you are in need of quality and compassionate mental healthcare, please call or go online today to schedule an appointment.