The month of July recognizes the unique challenges specific communities in our country face. We have made strides to provide equal access to mental health treatment for minorities. However, barriers still exist. Over the last decade, policy changes have given Americans with disabilities more opportunities but some issues have yet to be solved.
Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Month
One in five Americans will experience a mental illness each year and more than 50% of adults will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their life, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
A person of any gender or race can face challenges with their mental health. However, minority populations often face barriers to treatment. Black, Indigenous, People of Color Mental Health Month, also known as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, is observed in July to raise awareness for the needs of these communities and eliminate stigmas. Bebe Moore Campbell was an author and journalist who used her storytelling to reveal the challenges underrepresented communities face regarding mental health.
Research has found, BIPOC are less likely to have access to mental health services, reach out for help and complete their treatment program. These findings could correlate with a number of factors. The vast majority of psychologists in the U.S. are white. Finding a therapist or psychiatrist who speaks a person’s native language or embodies cultural competence can also be difficult. Due to the racism in our country, racial trauma and race-based traumatic stress are prevalent in BIPOC. This can lead to anxiety, depression and dissociation. Expanding a diverse pool of trauma informed mental health specialists is thus critically important.
To continue enhancing the health of underrepresented communities, this year’s BIPOC Mental Health Month theme is Beyond the Numbers. We can support the mission by exploring how different types of racism impacts mental health, advocate for individuals to seek treatment and check in on our BIPOC friends and family. Explore the resources below to learn more about BIPOC Mental Health Month.
Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act
On July 26, 1990, America moved forward to assure people with disabilities would have equal opportunity to participate in American life. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has opened the door for disabled people to find employment, access to transportation and buildings, and increased their community resources. The initial act required new buildings to have wheelchair ramps and created the standard for employer accommodations.
Although people’s lives were changed, many individuals with disabilities still weren’t considered disabled, this included people with prosthetic limbs. The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) broadened the definition of disability to, a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.
Today, the disabled community still faces barriers. Data shows people with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed compared to those without disabilities and transporting a service dog on a plan or train can be challenging. Advocacy organizations and government agencies are continuing to find solutions to these issues and end discrimination.