The calendar turned to July today, bringing with it the start of Minority Mental Health Month or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color) Mental Health Month. And while I had a different post in mind for today, I wanted to make sure I acknowledged this month.
Many have seen the fight for equality bubbling to the surface these past few weeks. Yet this fight has been happening for decades, it was just unnoticed by many of us because of our privilege, because of the fact that so many incidents of racism do not make the news, do not gather our collective attention.
It should not have taken a man gasping for breath for over 8 minutes to grab our collective attention, but it did. And this inattention on our part, this lack of acknowledgment of the regular cases of racism is one of the aspects that contribute to the unique mental health battles experience by the BIPOC community. Being treated like second-class citizens by too many people and suffering in silence for too long, while living in anxiety over the risk of being stopped by police, an encounter that statistically speaking could turn deadly quickly, it is no wonder that there are unique challenges faced by those in the BIPOC community.
Yet as those of us in the mental health community fight against the stigma of mental illness, we cannot ignore these unique challenges. We defeat the demons of mental illness, as well as the stigma of our fight, by remembering that none of us are alone and that can only be true if we fight for everyone, including and especially minority communities.