July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

“Stigma is one of the main reasons why people with mental health problems don’t seek treatment or take their medications. People of color, particularly African Americans, feel the stigma more keenly. In a race-conscious society, some don’t want to be perceived as having yet another deficit.” ~ Bebe Moore Campbell

July heralds in the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

It’s a relatively new development. As the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) explains,

“In May 2008 the US House of Representatives proclaimed (H. Con. Res. 134) July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group, was passed in recognition that:

  •  Improved access to mental health treatment and services and public awareness of mental illness are of paramount importance; and National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month 2012 Activities and Resources Guide
  • An appropriate month should be recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.” 

11 years ago the U.S. Surgeon General published the report Mental Health: Culture, Race and Ethnicity in August 2001.

Behavioral Healthcare emphasized the findings that minorities:

  • Are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for mental illness
  • Have less access to mental health services
  • Often receive poorer quality health care
  • Are underrepresented in mental health research.

Those findings are as true now as they ever were.


Bebe Moore Campbell, for whom the month is named, was the author of three New York Times bestsellers, and wrote articles for The New York Times MagazineThe Washington Post, the Los Angeles TimesEssenceEbonyBlack Enterprise, and more. She was a commentator on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.

She had a life-long interest in mental health, and her first children’s book, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry (2003) is about how a little girl copes with her mentally ill mother.  The story won NAMI’s  Outstanding Literature Award for 2003.

Campbell was a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and a founding member of NAMI-Inglewood. More than that, she was a NAMI national spokesperson and an instructor in NAMI’s Family-to-Family education program.

She died of brain cancer in 2006, but was the perfect person to lend her name to this endeavor.

{Read more about Campbell and her efforts in behalf of mental health here.}


Suggested activities for 2012 are available on the  NAMI’s  “Information, Activities and Resource Guide.”

Ideas include

  • Finding the Facebook page for National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and contributing by liking it to show your support, posting a comment to share what the month means to you, share your plans, support others’, etc.
  •   Hosting an “Ask the Doctor” session focusing on a specific community or focusing on issues such as ethnopsychopharmacology or cultural competence in treatment.
  • Donating books related to mental health experiences and information specified for diverse demographic groups to your local library (recommendations include

o 72-Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell

o  The Seven Beliefs: A Step-by Step Guide to Help Latinas Recognize and Overcome Depression by Belisa Lozano-Vranich and Jorge R. Petit (in English and Spanish)

o Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting by Terrie Williams, and

o Standing in the Shadows: Understanding and Overcoming Depression in Black Men by John Head, among others).

Take a photo of the NAMI leader and librarian receiving the donation and send it, along with a summary, to the local newspaper for additional exposure. Order your books through the NAMI store’s Amazon.com link and a percentage of your purchases to benefit NAMI.

After all their varied suggestions they recommend that you “connect with the NAMI Multicultural Action Center for assistance or share your plans and carried-out activities to provide examples to others interested in taking part in the celebration. Contact us at macenter@nami.org.”


Don’t miss the Tools and Resources page NAMI has set up to support you and get you going.

You can download flyers, utilize the logo, get tips for sharing your story, and of course can link up to the Activities and Resource Guide, which has more ideas for participation, plus highlights of Minority Mental Health Month events in the past.

There’s still time to contribute your efforts and energy to this important undertaking–don’t miss out.

To see:

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