The month of July is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month. In this month’s blog, we highlight the history of this commemoration and its modern-day impacts.
Initially coined National Minority Health Awareness Month in 2006, BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month honors the legacy of Bebe Moore Campbell, an American author, journalist, and teacher whose work illuminated the disparities and mental health needs of underrepresented communities. Bebe dedicated her life to advocating for mental health. This month commemorates her efforts and continues her vision to end the stigma of BIPOC people seeking mental health care.
This month has become essential for the following:
Acknowledging and working to reduce disparities: BIPOC communities continue to face significant disparities in accessing mental health care and experiencing equitable outcomes. Mental health awareness months specifically dedicated to BIPOC individuals aim to shed light on these disparities and advocate for improved access to culturally sensitive and appropriate mental health services.
Challenging stigma: The stigma surrounding mental health remains a significant barrier for individuals seeking help. BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month helps combat this stigma by fostering open conversations about mental health within BIPOC communities. By destigmatizing mental health struggles, individuals are more likely to seek support and engage in necessary conversations about their well-being.
Addressing historical trauma: BIPOC communities have often experienced historical trauma, including the legacy of colonization, slavery, systemic racism, and other forms of oppression. These experiences can significantly impact mental health and well-being across generations. By dedicating a month to raising awareness about BIPOC mental health, society can acknowledge and better understand the unique challenges these communities face.
Emphasizing culturally responsive care: Mental health services need to consider and address the diverse cultural, social, and historical contexts that shape the experiences of BIPOC individuals. By promoting culturally competent approaches, healthcare providers can better meet the needs of BIPOC communities and improve mental health outcomes.
Continued advocacy and support: Dedicated awareness months serve as platforms for advocacy, raising funds, and generating support for mental health resources targeting BIPOC populations. These campaigns can lead to increased funding for mental health services, research, and community-based initiatives that specifically address the unique challenges faced by BIPOC individuals.
Recognizing intersectionality within the BIPOC community: This month acknowledges that mental health experiences are influenced not only by race and ethnicity but also by other identities such as gender, sexuality, disability, and socioeconomic status. By considering these intersecting identities, the mental health needs of diverse individuals within the BIPOC community can be better understood and supported.
Mental Health America (MHA) has chosen Culture, Community, and Connection as this year’s campaign theme because“culture, community, and connection are pillars that support and uplift BIPOC individuals. BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month in 2023 plays a vital role in raising awareness, challenging stigma, addressing disparities, promoting culturally responsive care, and advocating for the mental health needs of BIPOC individuals. By acknowledging the unique challenges faced by these communities, society can work towards ensuring equitable access to mental health resources and support for all.
As American society is gradually shifting toward being more open and mindful of the benefits that taking care of mental health can pose, BIPOC communities continue to lack equitable access to care, medications, and support from others when tackling the topic of mental health. The resources below explain more about the disparities in care for BIPOC communities, how intersectionality exacerbates these disparities, and what communities can do to advocate for equitable mental health resources.