July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Month, and the Department of Community and Human Services (DCHS) is highlighting the importance of mental health awareness for Black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC), people in LGBTQ+ communities, immigrants and other groups.
While mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender or identity, these factors can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people in these groups are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illnesses, have less access to and availability of mental health services, and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care.
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 BIPOC. 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.
Minority Mental Health Month draws attention to the importance of taking on these challenges 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.
DCHS is committed to identifying and dismantling inequity and barriers to ensure services are available to all people regardless of race, economic status, language, sex, ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity and expressions. Additionally, the Department is committed to ensuring that BIPOC are not inappropriately or disproportionately represented in such services as Child Welfare and other mandated services.
DCHS provides a number of online multicultural mental health resources and resources for BIPOC, including:
Race Based Trauma Resources and Support in Times of Civil Strife. To help residents cope with the effects of race based trauma, the DCHS Racial Equity Core Group and Alexandria’s trauma-informed community network, Resilience Alexandria: Inform. Support. Elevate., maintain a growing list of resources related to coping with racism and trauma on individual, interpersonal/family, community and national/global levels.
Multicultural Mental Health Resources. This collection includes Spanish language materials, resources for addressing emotional and psychological needs in the LGBTQ community and resources for immigrants and refugees.
Resources for People in the LGBTQ Community. The Sexual Assault Center and Domestic Violence Program have also compiled a list of resources for youth and adults in the LGBTQ community at alexandriava.gov/LGBTQ.
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call or the 24/7 PRS CrisisLink Hotline at 703.527.4077 or Text "connect" to 855-11. For TTY, please dial 7-1-1. Residents can also call DCHS Emergency Services at 703.746.3401.