Mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity. Anyone can experience the challenges of mental illness regardless of their background. However, culture, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
When trying to access treatment, marginalized communities often have to contend with language barriers, a culturally insensitive system, racism, bias and discrimination in treatment settings, lower quality care, lower chance of health care coverage, and stigma from several angles (for being a minority and for having mental illness).
And, while chronic stress can have negative effects on everyone, pervasive exposure to psycho-social factors like racism and discrimination create additional daily stressors for people of color. The impact of racism-related events, chronic stress caused by institutional and socio-political inequities, and daily exposure to racism through micro-aggressions is significantly associated with higher risk factors related to poorer mental and physical health, depression and substance misuse.
Learn more about these challenges and access race-based trauma and multicultural mental health resources below.
Chronic stress can have negative side effects on everyone. Psycho-social factors, specifically, pervasive exposure to racism and discrimination, create an additional daily stressor for people of color. Research shows this to be particularly true for African-Americans (APA, 2016). The Race Based Trauma Resources and Support in Times of Civil Strife web page contains a continually growing collection of resources for and information related to coping with racism and trauma on individual, interpersonal and family, community and national and global levels.
Multicultural Mental Health Resources
- Teaching Tolerance
- American Psychological Association: Immigration
- Mental Health America: Latino/Hispanic Communities and Mental Health
- Mental Health America: Asian American/Pacific Islander Communities and Mental Health
- NAMI Latino Multicultural Action Center
- City of Alexandria 24-Hour Crisis Lines
- PRS CrisisLink - 24/7 crisis intervention, suicide prevention and support to foster self-sufficiency by providing problem-solving skills and information on community resources so callers can better cope with emotional trauma, personal and family crises. Text "CONNECT" to 855-11 or call 703.527.4077.
- Learn to Recognize Signs of Distress in Youth
Spanish Language Materials
- Asuntos Riesgosos: Adicción a internet
- Asuntos Riesgosos: Sexo
- Asuntos Riesgosos: Uso Indebido de Medicamentos Recetados
- Asuntos Riesgosos: Uso de la Marihuana
- Asuntos Riesgosos: Compras Compulsivas
- Asuntos Riesgosos: Ejercicio
- 31 Formas De Trabajar en su Bienestar
- Spanish-language Screening Tools for Anxiety and Depression
- MHA’s Spanish-language educational materials
- Other Resources for Spanish-language speakers
From the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services
Although there have been great strides in the legal and civil rights of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning, the LGBTQ population continue to experience worse health outcomes than their heterosexual counterparts. Due to factors like low rates of health insurance coverage, high rates of stress due to systematic harassment and discrimination, and a lack of cultural competency in the health care system, LGBT people are at a higher risk for cancer, mental illnesses, and other diseases, and are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, and engage in other risky behaviors.
Find out more:
- Do Ask, Do Tell! Collecting Data on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
- How to close the disparities gap for LGBT communities
- Mental Health America - LGBT
- NAMI - LGBT - Finding Support
- Mental Health America: Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Communities and Mental Health
- Youth LGBTQ Resources at the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia Website
Does Mental Health Affect My Community?
Resources for Immigrants
The DCHS Cultural and Linguistic Competence Committee hosts periodic Lunch and Learns to help promote an organizational culture that provides culturally and linguistically appropriate supports and services to Alexandrians. In October 2016, the committee hosted a two-hour presentation exploring resources for immigrants in Northern Virginia and Alexandria in particular and moderated a panel of representatives from regional organizations who provide services to immigrant and refugee populations in NOVA. Follow this link for a collection of resources for immigrants and refugees and information about organizations serving those populations presented during the event.
Also, learn about resources and support for immigrants and refugees offered by the City of Alexandria and community partners.
This is Recovery
“This is Recovery” is a 14 minute video featuring men and women across Northern Virginia who share their stories of recovery to help others who are dealing with similar challenges. They enable and inspire all of us to live in hope. This video was funded by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services and produced by members of the Virginia Recovery Initiative Region 2. Learn more about the video and City of Alexandria programs and services related to recovery.
National Minority Mental Health Month
Every July, the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Month draws attention to the importance of taking on challenges faced by people of color and the stigma of mental illness, particularly in communities where these problems are increased by less access to care, cultural stigma and lower quality care. Read more about minority mental health issues and listen to stories about minority mental health on NAMI's website. Read more about BIPOC mental health and Minority Mental Health Month on Mental Health America's website.