Millions of people in the United States suffer from various forms of mental health issues — but data shows that people of color with such issues are significantly less likely to receive the assistance they need to cope, heal, and live healthy, stable lives.
According to the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), Black and Latina/o Americans use mental health services at about half the rate white Americans; lack of treatment increases the risk of chronic mental illnesses that are otherwise treatable in early stages.
To help raise awareness about mental health in communities of color, in May 2008 the US House of Representatives announced that each July would be observed as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Named for the author, mental health advocate, and co-founder of NAMI, the annual month-long effort was established to “enhance public awareness of mental illness in communities of color.”
In recognition of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, The Offing spotlighted writers and artists of color engaged in consideration of, and communication about, their mental illnesses.
Below, we offer information about a few others, elsewhere on the internet and out in the world, who do so year-round. It is our hope that this list will be useful, if only to reassure those of us who suffer that you are not alone.
It bears repeating: You are not alone.
- Black Girl + Mental Health
Diamond Sharp, editor of Black Youth Project and a reader and editor on The Offing staff, runs Black Girl + Mental Health, blog dedicated to the intersection of mental health and Black identity. The blog offers countless resources and information on how to deal with mental illness, such as depression, and reposts articles about self-care, fact sheets, and advice. You can find Diamond on Twitter at @diamonde.
- Think About the Bubbles
Made by writer and artist Joyce Hatton, Think About the Bubbles is an illustrated zine that covers issues of mental health, womanism, and personal growth. The thirteenth issue, “Homebody,” focuses on mental health, family, purse-clutching, and birds. “Also, cancer, the Simpsons, and video games.” You can order Think About the Bubbles on Big Cartel.
- 11 Black Queer and Trans Women Discuss Self Care
Elixher recently ran a piece that featured 11 writers, artists, and scholars discussing their practices of self-care. It’s important to stop and speak about the pain and healing, and this conversation shows the variety of ways to do so.
- Terrell J. Starr
International journalist Terrell J. Starr has a strong body of work that covers the intersection of blackness, depression, and masculinity. Starr published a harrowing account of his plan to commit suicide and overcoming the stigma of depression, “The Night I Spoke Up About My #BlackSuicide.”
- Thick Dumpling Skin
Thick Dumpling Skin is a blog and online community devoted to covering issues of body image and eating disorders within the Asian American community. The blog works against the images of “perfect bodies” that permeate within popular culture that affect people of all genders. Thick Dumpling Skin shares body positive images, resources, and audio. In the true spirit of community, readers are invited to share their stories.
- Black Girl Dangerous
Black Girl Dangerous was established to amplify the voices of of QTPoC around the world. Last year, BGD published “Going to Therapy as a QTPoC Without Being Harmed, Erased, or Baffled,” as part of an ongoing column by CarmenLeah Ascencio on QTPoC wellness and healing. Follow Black Girl Dangerous on Twitter at @BlackGirlDanger.
- Feminista Jones
Jones is, her bio states, “a mental health social worker, sex-positive feminist writer, public speaker, and community activist from New York City. . . With a focus on women’s health and well-being, specifically in areas of mental and sexual health, she is currently the Love & Sex section editor at BlogHer.com.” Creator of the global anti-street harassment campaign #YouOKSis, she often collects and shares mental health resources on her Twitter feed.
Bassey is a writer, activist, and advocate for people of color who live with mental illnesses. She speaks openly about her Bi-Polar II diagnosis, and is the founder of The Siwe Project, “a global non-profit dedicated to promoting mental health awareness throughout the global Black community.” The organization founded #NoShameDay, observed this year on July 6 thousands of participants, including the founder of Gradient Lair, who published this powerful piece about the initiative and her reasons for taking part.
The Asian American activism, feminism, identity, and pop culture blog Reappropriate recently posted a response to a New York Times article that covered on-campus suicides. The article extensively covered issues of mental illness among students, but in doing so, the Times “completely [marginalized] the Asian American community from the conversation.” In a piece entitled, “Why is the New York Times Rendering the Suicide Deaths of Asian American Students Invisible?” Reappropriate addresses the effects of mental illness on Asian American college students, citing figures that show Asian American students are more likely to experience depression or anxiety symptoms — while least likely to seek help — and that Asian American women “have the highest suicide rate of women of any race.” This crucial read gives links to significant studies, as well as comprehensive resource lists.
If you have suggestions about other articles, sites, organizations, or individuals that should be added to this list, please email us at [email protected] — we’d love to include them.
Photo via alainlm/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)