How to Fight Mental Health Stigma as a Person of Color
Throughout July we asked our Crisis Counselors who identified as minorities for words of affirmation that they would want to share with other minorities. Their responses appear in the following letter:
As a minority it sometimes feels like we are existing in a world that doesn't want us. We constantly fight to make our voices heard. And whenever we do manage to speak up, it seems like others are quick to dismiss our issues. It can make life hard and overwhelming. But you're never alone. We have just as much as a right to exist, thrive, and be happy as anyone else in this country. Don't be afraid to reach out when you need help, we're all here to help each other out.
Our communities may have told us that talking about our mental health was a sign of weakness. That it is hard enough being a minority; we need to put up a strong face so they can’t wear us down. But anyone can be affected by mental illness. Approximately 1 in 5 adults experience mental health problems every year. These statistics are even higher among those identifying as American Indian or Multiracial. Hard times can fall on anyone, and we can’t control how our genetics tell us to respond. Know that you're deserving of support, regardless of color and background. True strength is reaching out for help despite - or in spite - of the stigma that lies around getting support.
According to the National Institute on Mental Health, those who identified as a racial minority were significantly less likely to receive treatment for their mental health. Only 31% of those identifying as Latinx who experienced mental health issues received treatment, in comparison to 50% of whites. Statistics are even more grim for African-Americans and Asians, who were only received treatment 29% and 20% of the time respectively. That means 70% of those struggling with their mental health don't get the support they need. Reach out. Ask for help. Your mental health is important. Don't let anyone make you feel out of the norm for taking care of yourself. If taking care of yourself is a radical act, become a radical. You matter; value your worth.
Regardless of how other people may see you or how you identify, you are loved, you are valuable, and you are brave. Even when you face cultural insensitivity from the health systems you reach out to. Even when you face discrimination and stigma. Even when people don’t believe you. Everyday you make the world a better place. Your voice is strong, your identity is resilient, and your mind and soul are beautiful.
At Crisis Text Line, you are a priority, not a minority. Our shared humanity unites us in one laser-focused goal for you: to stand alongside of you in your moment of crisis, to believe in your ability to move beyond the darkness, and to honor your right to make your own decisions in your own time. You will be met with dignity and respect from hearts filled with compassion. We will be humbly honored if you choose to reach out to our community.
Thank you all for being your unique selves.
The Crisis Counselors of Crisis Text Line