Minority Mental Health Awareness Month


Health is a combination of physical and mental wellness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five U.S. adults will experience a mental illness this year.  Dealing with stereotypes, bias, discrimination, and racism creates unique stressors in the lives of people of color and other marginalized groups including immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community – stressors that can have negative impacts on mental, emotional and physical health.  Additionally, poverty and lack of health insurance – two realities in many minority communities – create substantial barriers to care when people need help with a mental health or substance misuse issue. While overall rates of mental disorders for most communities of color are largely similar to those for Whites, numerous studies have found that racial and ethnic minorities are less likely than Whites to seek mental health treatment, often due to factors such as lack of health insurance and sometimes due to stigma. People of color are also more likely to face barriers such as lack of available mental health services, poorer quality of care, and lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate care within treatment settings.

There is overwhelming evidence that inequitable social, economic and environmental factors— such as, poverty, discrimination, and lack of access to educational opportunities, jobs and affordable housing —contribute to disparities in health including mental health.

For Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) is sharing the following information on what communities can do to support the mental and emotional health of all residents and to reverse the inequities that often lead to poorer health outcomes in communities of color.

Pain in the Nation Update: While Deaths from Alcohol, Drugs, and Suicide Slowed Slightly in 2017, Rates Are Still at Historic Highs:  More than 150,000 Americans died from alcohol- and drug-induced causes and suicide in 2017—more than twice as many as in 1999—according to analysis by TFAH and Well Being Trust of mortality data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2017, synthetic-opioid deaths were highest among males, Blacks, Whites, adults ages 18–54, and those living in urban areas. Between 2007 and 2017, drug deaths among Blacks increased by 101 percent and alcohol deaths were up 49 percent.  For Latinos during the same period, drug deaths were up 78 percent and alcohol deaths were up 48 percent. Over the past decade (2008–2017), suicide increased in nearly every state. However, there were substantial variations by demographics —with larger proportional increases among younger people and racial and ethnic minorities.

Pain in the Nation Issue Brief – Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide and the Millennial Generation – a Devastating Impact: The impact of the national epidemics of alcohol, drug and suicide deaths has been especially pronounced amongst Millennials.  Millennials, people born between 1981 and 1996, faced and continue to face a mix of challenges unique to their generation including the opioid crisis, the skyrocketing costs of education and housing, and entering the job market during the great recession. Between 1999 and 2017, opioid overdose death rates among 18- to 34-year-olds increased by more than 500 percent. During the same period, the increase in synthetic opioid death rates among young adults increased by a staggering 6,000 percent.

The millennial generation is a more diverse generation than are baby boomers, therefore the need for culturally and linguistically appropriate mental and substance misuse treatment services for today’s young adults has grown significantly. This report includes policy recommendations on ways to prevent substance misuse and suicide among Millennials.

Racial Healing and Achieving Health Equity in the United States: Health equity is the   opportunity for everyone to have a fair chance of achieving optimal health. This 2018 issue brief highlights and acknowledges health inequities, the factors that influences them and highlights policy recommendations that can help the nation achieve health equity.

Advancing Health Equity: What We Have Learned from Community-based Health Equity Initiatives: On March 1, 2018, TFAH, with support from The California Endowment, held a convening Advancing Health Equity: What We Have Learned from Community-based Health Equity Initiatives in to identify and examine promising practices from existing initiatives. The resulting convening summary outlines core strategies of successful community-based health equity initiatives and recommendations for next steps in creating and advancing a policy agenda to promote community-based health equity.

Taking Action to Promote Health Equity – Using the Lessons from Cutting-Edge Practices to Improve Health and Well Being: TFAH’s Fall 2018 4-part health equity webinar series features public health practitioners and community leaders sharing their experiences shaping and implementing programs to advance health equity in their communities.  The webinar series informed a broad, national audience about compelling and replicable health equity initiatives and how to address the grass roots issues that will impact their success.