Summer is here, and the month of July is a month for many things: The 4th of July, summer barbecues, and that much-needed summer vacation. July is also National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
Mental illness affects one in five Americans. In communities of color, mental illnesses carry a negative stigma and is not a prevalent topic of discussion in many households of color. As a result, the lack of resources for mental illnesses are rarer, the quality is poorer, and thus, mental illnesses grow to be more severe for African-American, Latino, and other minority multicultural groups.
In order to stay abreast with how mental health can affect you or your loved ones, here are three common myths about mental illnesses:
1. “Mental illness is not a real illness.”
Often, we may brush off symptoms of a mental illness, because they don’t seem as severe as a “real illness” like the common cold or flu. The language for how mental health is discussed has changed over time, and mental illnesses are not to be confused with the daily ups and downs of life that you may face. Depression and anxiety, for example, are real health problems with effective treatments such as therapy.
2. “Mental health does not affect me — I’m not crazy!”
Mental illnesses are completely normal and affect many people in different ways. Did you know that 1 in 10 people experience a period of major depression in their lifetimes? Mental health plays a role for people who may experience a trauma, people who live stressful lifestyles, etc. Women of color especially face mental health issues at a disproportionate rate, as of 2016.
3. “My mental illness will go away if I just ignore it and worry about the more important problems in my life.”
If you fall and break your arm, do you just ignore it until it goes away? Of course not! Many mental illnesses have the potential to go away with proper care, but it is up to you to take that first step for the health you may need. Because of the negative stigmas around mental health and therapy, you may be inclined to just ignore your potential symptoms, but mental health is a completely normal aspect of human life. There is no one cause for mental illnesses, and ignoring it will only cause it to fester into a nervous breakdown or worse. Besides therapy, your closest circle of family and friends can also provide support and positive reinforcements for your mental health.
In order for you to be your best you, be transparent with those around you about mental health — you never know who you can positively impact by starting the dialogue. To learn more about women’s mental health, check out this resource from the National Institute of Mental Health.