July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

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Mental Health in the United States

woman appears depressed and is suffering from a mental illness.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and taking care of it is as important as taking care of your physical health.

Did you know that more than 1 in 5 adults, aged 18 or older, in the United States live with a mental illness? That’s nearly 58 million people. A mental illness—defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder—can range in degree of severity, from mild to moderate to severe. Severe mental illnesses result in serious functional impairment, which interferes with life activities, such as working or going to school.1

Mental Health Challenges Among Minority Populations

According to data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the prevalence of any mental illness was highest among adults reporting two or more races.1 Additionally, the percentage of adults aged 18 or older, who met the criteria for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders in 2021, was highest among multiracial adults.2

The good news is that mental health disorders are treatable. Unfortunately, data shows that members of ethnic and minority groups are significantly less likely to receive services for mental illness than non-Hispanic whites.3 That may be due to the cost of care, inadequate insurance coverage; inaccessibility to high-quality, mental healthcare services; a lack of providers from one’s racial or ethnic group; or cultural stigma.4

In 2008, July was declared Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Who was the woman behind the month? Bebe Moore Campbell was a literary trailblazer, who used her words to address racism, mental health, and culture. She co-founded the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) chapter in Urban Los Angeles and became an advocate for change. She died of cancer in 2006, but her legacy lives on during the month-long campaign that aims to improve access to mental health treatment and services among underserved communities and promote public awareness of mental illness.5

Symptoms of Mental Illness

It all begins with awareness. Mental health can change at any point. And while each specific mental health disorder has different symptoms, there are some general signs that point to the possibility of a mental illness, including:6

  • Eating and sleeping habit changes.
  • Losing the initiative or desire to participate in hobbies or activities.
  • Experiencing extreme emotional highs and/or lows.
  • Feeling nervous or afraid without reason.
  • Having difficulty with concentration, memory, or logical thought.
  • Exhibiting unusual behaviors that are odd or uncharacteristic.
  • Being absent from school or work often, performing poorly in either situation, or experiencing difficulties in relationships with peers or co-workers.
  • Withdrawing from family or friends.
  • Having illogical thoughts.
  • Feeling a heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, or touch.
  • Encountering a disconnection from yourself and your surroundings, and potentially experiencing hallucinations, paranoia, or delusions.
  • Having thoughts of suicide or attempting suicide.

Getting Help

Whether you’re concerned about your own mental health or that of a loved one, research indicates that early interventions can minimize or delay symptoms and improve the prognosis. You should have a thorough evaluation performed by a mental healthcare provider or other healthcare professional.6

While many mental health conditions do co-occur with substance use disorders, not all of them do. That’s why American Addiction Centers (AAC) is set to begin offering primary mental health services later this summer/early fall at River Oaks Treatment Center, not far from Tampa in Florida. This new program is not designed to manage substance use disorders but instead focuses on treating other debilitating mental health issues—such as anxiety, depression, mood disorders, and other psychiatric concerns not related to substance use—that may benefit from inpatient/residential treatment.

And if you are struggling with addiction a co-occurring mental health condition, all of the AAC treatment centers offer co-occurring disorder treatment. There are also a number of resources available for specific populations. To get help, call to speak to one of our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators, who will listen to your concerns, answer your questions, explain your options, and help you find the path to sustained mental healing.

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