May marks National Mental Health Month, which was created to commemorate how important mental health is to our wellbeing.
Mental health is a key aspect of living a healthy lifestyle because it impacts how one feels about life, themselves and others.
Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are disproportionately affected by mental health conditions, with the COVID-19 pandemic and stigma intensifying these disparities.
Mental health and BIPOC communities
Research from the American Psychiatric Association (APA) states that minority communities are adversely affected by poor mental health because of barriers to care like a lack of funds, medical racism, cultural stigma, and a lack of knowledge about mental health conditions. Added to this, being a minority means facing discrimination in society which can affect have a negative impact on mental health.
How COVID has affected mental health in minority communities
Even though we are slowly turning the tide and appear to be on the other side of the pandemic; COVID-19 has made these issues significantly worse. This is partly due to the isolating nature of the pandemic, with statistics by the World Health Organization (WHO) showing that anxiety and depression has increased by 25% worldwide.
Gaps in mental health care and a distrust of the medical system have also prevented people who need care the most from accessing treatment. Other factors impacting mental health in BIPOC communities during the pandemic are income loss, worrying about one’s physical health, adapting to a new way of living, and grief.
How we can lessen the impact of mental health disparities
Improving mental health within BIPOC communities starts with addressing the structural issues that are preventing them from accessing quality, culturally competent mental health care.
This means addressing systemic exclusion and discrimination which often lead to poor mental health outcomes. It also means actively educating communities through outreach programs to tackle misinformation and stigma.
Need Help Implementing Equitable Mental Health Programs in Your Community?
At Beacon Public Health, we offer public health programming, professional development, speaking and keynotes, and subject matter expertise. Using these services, we’re able to help build community relationships, give staff sensitivity training, address health inequity, and engage BIPOC communities on important conversations about mental health.
For more information, visit www.beaconpublichealth.com or follow us on social media at BeaconPublicHealth (LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram) or BeaconPubHlth (Twitter).