This month we honor the legacy of author, advocate, and trailblazer Bebe Moore Campbell by recognizing Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (also known as BIPOC Mental Health Month). This and every National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is dedicated to improving access to mental health treatment and services and promoting public awareness of mental illness.
The theme of Mental Health America’s 2023 BIPOC Mental Health campaign is Culture, Community, & Connection. Connection with one’s culture and community, as well as a sense of belonging and inclusion, is vital for well-being and mental health. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) populations are faced with disproportionate amounts of challenges in communities, including:
- Historically, BIPOC populations have been pushed out of their living spaces intentionally and forcefully. Even if a BIPOC individual hasn’t dealt with community displacement in their own lifetime, generational and historical trauma can still impact their current mental health and quality of life.
- Community displacement disproportionately impacts all individuals within BIPOC communities, not just the individuals forced to move. Gentrified neighborhoods see an increase in cost of living, lose small and local businesses, and disrupt community culture and safety.
- Many BIPOC communities have faced forced relocation and removal that has distanced them from their loved ones, cultural practices, languages, and sense of identity. This generational trauma has impacted the ability of BIPOC individuals to access services, feel secure, and have positive mental health outcomes.
Advocating for mentally healthy spaces is vital to the overall health of the community as a whole. A few ways to promote healthy spaces are:
- Remembering that there is power in numbers. When individuals get together to unite under a common goal, they increase their chances of enacting change that could promote overall wellness, a sense of purpose, and connection.
- Keep in mind that BIPOC communities have always been at the forefront of social change, which is why it’s important to continue to pay homage to the originating communities that have led the way.
- There are ways to build connection to the community outside of in-person support, via virtual spaces or other communication that can be impactful for those feeling disconnected.
- Prioritize access for all when advocating for mentally healthy environments. Strong community support requires an overall understanding that every person is deserving of a healthy environment and has a role in the wellness of those around them.