Why We Need to Talk About Mental Health in Minority and Immigrant Communities

In the current political tides of the United States, hate has not only been allowed in the media but has even become the norm. This hateful propaganda that stems from racial and cultural differences takes a toll on the mental health of the targeted minority groups. Two extremely important issues, mental health and racism, are both individually stigmatized, yet not even recognized in conversation together.

Immigrants specifically have been victims of hate speech and hate crimes because of where they came from. The pain that comes from fleeing your country, whether it is to find better opportunities or because you are no longer welcome there, is just one of the many issues that immigrants face when coming to America. The act of uprooting everything you know, your culture, and your family to come to a new country takes a tremendous toll on one’s mental health. Then add the fact that while you are trying to create a new life for yourself and embed yourself in a new culture and language, the residents of this country do not even want you there.

Credit: Vanderbilt University

The combination of these many factors creates the instability and pain that breeds mental illnesses. Although many refugees are provided with basic necessities such as food and shelter, very rarely are they provided resources to deal with their mental health. Mental health resources are not easily accessible in the United States. The lack of representation in both therapists and psychologists, along with the high price tag on therapy and psychiatrist appointments (not even including the price of medication), all make for a very exclusive industry.

Credit: Living Resiliently Blog

Although America has taken slow steps in destigmatizing mental health, many other countries are not there yet, which makes it even harder on immigrants who come from a culture where mental illness is not talked about or even recognized. The first step is recognizing the problem. The second step is finding help. However, both seem to be very difficult for the minority population in the United States. 

Credit: Creative Common Rights

So how can we help? How do we protect our minority groups? How do we create safe spaces for their mental health? The first step is to talk about it. Talk about injustices, and call them out when you see them. Talk about mental health, be kind to people who are struggling, destigmatize the topic altogether. The small steps do add up, so be an advocate for everyone, no matter their mental health, their cultural upbringing, their race, and anything in-between. As more people ask for representation and resources more people will provide them. This process may feel discouraging but it does work.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues please reach out for help, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

 

Want to keep up with HCBU? Make sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, check out our Pinterest board, and read our latest Tweets!