Rep. Napolitano and Tri-Caucus Recognize July as National Minority Mental Health Month
(Washington, DC) Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, Congressional Mental Health Caucus Co-Chair, joined by the chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus, recognized July as National Minority Mental Health Month, to enhance public awareness about mental illness in diverse communities.
“Mental health has long been ignored, and we must continue to de-stigmatize the issue and increase funding, elevating it as any other illness or conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, and other physical illnesses,” Napolitano said. “Mental health does not discriminate: it affects all of us regardless of race, class, or gender. Mental wellness is just as important as physical wellness. We must all be part of the solution and work to invest in mental health services for those who need help.”
Rep. Charles Gonzalez, Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman: “While mental illness does not discriminate, it disproportionately affects our minority communities. This month must be seen as an opportunity to not only increase awareness for mental illness, but also to promote long-term solutions that address the uniqueness of America’s minority communities.”
Rep. Judy Chu, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chairwoman: “Mental health issues affect every community within our nation, but the effects of these disorders are especially challenging for minority communities where resource limitations and cultural stigmas make it much harder to address these problems. In the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, young AAPI women have the highest rates of depression and suicide ideation of any racial group, and nearly 40 percent of Southeast Asian refugees suffer from acute levels of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. These problems are compounded by cultural and linguistic barriers to accessing mental health services, limited research on the unique mental health needs and challenges of the AAPI community, and the fact that AAPIs have the lowest rate of mental health care use among all populations. National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is a time to raise awareness of these critical issues, address systematic barriers to quality care, and ensure that our communities understand that saving lives is more important than saving face.”
Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman: “While the trend is getting better, far too little attention is paid to mental health and the racial and ethnic disparities that exist not only in mental health care, but in mental health status. For example, African Americans are 20% more likely than Whites to report psychological distress, yet are more than two times less likely than Whites to receive antidepressants, and a report from the Surgeon General found that the suicide rate among African Americans, aged 10 to 14 years, increased 233% from 1980 to 1995. Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, we -- as a nation -- have never had a better opportunity to work to eliminate racial and ethnic mental health disparities, destigmatize mental health illnesses, improve our mental health screenings and diagnoses, expand access to needed mental health care services and treatments, and ensure that the mental health and wellness of every citizen in this nation is protected, preserved and improved.”
To honor a life-long advocate for mental health, Congress designated July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month in 2008. Before her untimely death in 2006, Campbell was an author and co-founder of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Urban Los Angeles. The goal of National Minority Mental Health Month is to increase awareness of mental illness, prevention, treatment, and research in diverse communities.
According to the Office of Minority Health:
- The death rate from suicide for African American men was almost six times that for African American women, in 2008.
- African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.
- Older Asian American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over age 65 in the United States.
- Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls, grades 9-12, were 70% higher than for White girls in the same age group, in 2011.
- While the overall death rate from suicide for American Indian/Alaska Natives is comparable to the White population, adolescent American Indian/Alaska Natives have death rates at twice the rate for Whites in the same age groups.
- National Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander mental health data is limited at this time. Data will be published as it is released in reports published by the CDC.
National Mental Health Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
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