By: Susana Marikle, PsyD
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and it was established to direct efforts towards ending stigma and providing mental health information to all members of our communities. Within our communities, there are groups of people less likely than others to seek help when facing difficult times. Sometimes seeking help is outwardly shamed, sometimes help-seeking behaviors are discouraged more subtly and sometimes getting help is fraught with obstacles. Many members of our communities are struggling silently with mental health concerns and are unable or unwilling to get help.
The suggestion that you are “too blessed to be stressed” might feel like you don’t deserve to have struggles. Or “you need to tough this out; women in our family are too strong for this” can suggest that you shouldn’t need help. In many cultural groups, mental illness and emotional distress are viewed as weakness, personal failure and humiliating for the entire family. Individuals are discouraged to admit that they are struggling, and even more discouraged to ask for help during a difficult time. Often, the individuals heaping shame are completely unaware that their words and actions are having this effect.
During this month, let’s focus our attention on helping each member of our community to seek support with anxiety, depression, relationship struggles, parenting skills and other mental health concerns. Everyone deserves support. Let’s work towards replacing stigma with hope. If you are struggling with emotional stress, please know that help is available. The first step towards feeling better is asking for help, not denying that you are struggling!