Eleven years ago a movement began to start a national campaign targeted toward African Americans to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities. National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in July commemorates a special connection between Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Congress established the month in 2008 in honor of the late African American novelist, Bebe Moore Campbell, who was both a NAMI member and AKA honorary member.
African Americans comprise 12 percent of the population — the second-largest ethnic minority group in the United States — but they often receive disproportionately less and lower quality care than other communities for both medical and mental health services. Cultural biases and stigmas against mental health and health care professionals in general prevent many African Americans from accessing care due to prior experiences with historical misdiagnoses, lack of trust in the healthcare system, inadequate treatment and a lack of cultural competency.
African Americans tend to rely on family, religious and social communities for emotional support rather than turning to health care professionals, even though this may at times be necessary. Only one in three African American women will seek out mental health care services when diagnosed with a mental health condition. This reluctance is possibly due to several influences: a lack of understanding of symptoms, lack of information provided to them related to their symptoms connected to specific mental health issues, lack of access to services or the belief that seeking treatment indicates the lack of religious faith.
SOURCE: GREENVILLE NEWS