National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month has been recognized each July since being approved by the US House of Representatives in 2008. (1) Its purpose is to bring awareness to mental health, especially in marginalized communities. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Mental Health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act, and helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.” (2,3)
While approximately 20% of the US population has struggled with mental illness, it can be especially difficult for members of racial and ethnic minority communities to seek and receive quality mental healthcare. (1) Whether it’s due to a lack of availability of mental health services, social or cultural stigma, difficulty finding providers who share your cultural experiences, and/or language barriers, it can be difficult for people in predominantly minority communities to access proper care for mental health conditions. This lack of accessibility has led to disproportionately high levels of disability, premature death rates, and reduced quality of life in minority communities compared to society overall. (4) To improve overall health equity, it is imperative that mental health services be made available and easy to access for all communities.
Understanding and feeling empowered about making decisions regarding one’s health is a crucial aspect of mental health hygiene. Access to proper healthcare must improve to advance health equity in our country, including mental healthcare access. Through our work with state and local health departments, Molecular Testing Labs works hard to bring access to critical diagnostic services to marginalized communities. Our self-collect kits and dry blood spot testing have made it possible for people living in these communities to not only access necessary healthcare, but they have also empowered patients to take part in their health, reducing the stress of the unknown that often comes with testing.
Molecular Testing Labs is also a member of the Health Action Alliance (HAA), which works to help employers improve health equity, respond to societal health challenges, and plan for future public health emergencies. (5) One of the critical initiatives of the HAA is improving workplace mental health. We work to improve workplace mental health for our employees, contribute to improving access to healthcare, and improve mental health in society at large.
Minority mental health is an essential topic of discussion. We set aside a month each year to recognize and work to improve the inequity of available mental health services, though we must continue this crucial conversation year-round. To improve health inequity, we must first acknowledge its existence. To continue to bring awareness to minority mental health access, share this blog post on your social media and continue this vital discussion.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. NAMI.org. https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Bebe-Moore-Campbell-National-Minority-Mental-Health-Awareness-Month
- US Department of Health and Human Services. (2023). National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. HHS.gov. https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/minority-mental-health/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, June 27). Prioritizing Minority Mental Health. https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/minority-mental-health/index.html#:~:text=CDC%20observes%20National%20Minority%20Mental
- Cuellar, N.G. (2023). July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Journal of Transcultural Nursing. 34(4), 253-254. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/10436596231175200
- Health Action Alliance. Workplace Mental Health. HealthAction.org. https://www.healthaction.org/mentalhealth