In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as BIPOC Mental Health Month.
While mental health conditions do not discriminate based on race, color, gender, or identity; background and identity can make access to mental health treatment much more difficult. In the public mental health system, research shows that mental health disparities exist for communities of color. The goal of this national observance is to bring awareness and focus to the challenges that minorities face in caring for their mental health. We also remember Bebe Moore Campbell’s legacy during the month.
Campbell was an award-winning author, journalist and teacher, a committed advocate for mental health, and a co-founder of the NAMI Urban Los Angeles Chapter. Motivated by personal experience with mental health challenges within her family, in 2005 Campbell turned her efforts to the creation of a National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.
“Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans…It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.”
Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005
Campbell’s message is one of optimism – with access to care, healing is possible. At Sycamores, in observance of Minority Mental Health month, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee continues to raise awareness about mental health disparities, join broader efforts to call for greater attention to the disparities, and support efforts to strengthen the public mental health system’s delivery of culturally responsive and linguistically appropriate care.