July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This aims to bring awareness to the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minorities communities face in regards to mental health in the United States. Some of these struggles include: less access to higher-level mental health care, discrimination/racism, more vulnerability to being uninsured, less access to culturally competent service providers, language/communication barriers, fear or mistrust of treatment, socioeconomic status, and reduced access to mental health services (Mays, V., et al, 2017)

Why is it important to break the stigma of mental health for minority communities in mental health? Stigmatization can cause a major impact on mental health. This harmful experience can cause stress, trauma, grief, and other negative emotions that may express themselves in negative mental health outcomes. 

How to contribute to raising awareness and combating stigmatization:

-Bring awareness to the use of stigmatizing language around mental illness

-Educate friends, family, and colleagues about the unique challenges of mental illness 

within minority groups

-Become aware of your own attitudes and beliefs towards minority communities to reduce negative assumptions

-Know the facts and educate yourself

-Consider donating or volunteering at local organizations geared towards the breakdown of stigmatization of mental health 

References

Mays, V. (2017) Perceived discrimination in healthcare and mental health/substance abuse treatment among Blacks, Latinos, and Whites.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5233585/

Racial/ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities often suffer from poor mental health outcomes due to multiple factors including: inaccessibility of high-quality mental health care, cultural stigma surrounding mental health care, discrimination, and lack of awareness on mental health. (American Psychiatric Association, 2022)

Additional barriers for minorities include:

-Different cultural perceptions about mental illness and well-being

-Racism and discrimination

-Being more vulnerable to being uninsured

-Cultural differences in help-seeking behaviors

-Language or communication barriers 

-Fear and mistrust of treatment

Often times, service providers may apply the same cultural lens to minorities as they do to non-minorities which can limit mutual understanding, result in inaccurate diagnoses, and hurt rapport building and trust. 

The following graphics showcase some of these disparities (Simmons University)

How do we address this issue?

-Greater emphasis on culturally competent services

-Increase awareness of and combat sigma surrounding mental illness in minority 

communities 

-Increase research efforts that examine relationships between minorities and mental health services

-Create and support more programs that focus on improving culturally competent services

References & Resources

American Psychiatric Association, https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/cultural-competency/education/mental-health-facts

Simmons University, https://online.simmons.edu/blog/racial-disparities-in-mental-health-treatment/

How we approach relationships as adults has much to do with what our childhood relationships looked like with parents, or primary caregivers. According to the Attachment Theory by John Bowlby, there are four attachment styles: secure, avoidant, anxious, and anxious-avoidant with the secure attachment style being the healthiest and, typically, most successful. 

Signs of a secure attachment style in childhood include:

-Demonstrating distress when separated from parent/caregiver but can be calmed down.

-Showing relief or joy when reunited with parent/caregiver

-Allowing the caregiver to console them when under distress

-Exploring their environment and taking risks, feeling comforted by knowing their caregiver will be there to support them. 

Signs of a secure attachment style in adults include:

-Being able to self-regulate emotions 

-Being able to cope with feeling or being alone

-Communicating and expressing when support is needed or emotional connection is 

desired

-Working through challenging times in a relationship proactively

-Knowing when to end a relationship or set boundaries when people they care about are emotionally unavailable

How to foster a secure attachment style in childhood and adulthood:

Childhood:

-Set routines and help child experience predictability 

-Healthily express a range of emotions and illustrate the importance of feelings 

-Encourage child to talk about emotions and feelings 

-Set obtainable expectations to help build self-esteem

-Keep their word and follow through with what they say they will do 

-Self-regulate their own emotions

Adulthood:

-Actively work on relationship with yourself

-Purge toxic or counterproductive relationships 

-Build your self-esteem

-Healthily express your emotions

-Work on healing past negative experiences in therapy

Community violence has been recognized as a major public health problem impacting both youth and adults. Some studies show that between 50% and 96% of urban youth have witnessed some type of community violence in their lifetime. Exposure to community violence is associated with a variety of emotional and behavioral problems including: PTSD, anxiety, depression, internalizing symptoms, suicidal behaviors, antisocial behavior, social withdrawal, substance use, and academic problems.

What is community violence? Community violence is the violence that happens between unrelated individuals, generally outside the home. Some examples of community violence can be:

-Assaults

-Shootings

-Fights among groups

Ways we can prevent community violence:

-Changing social norms through street outreach/violence interruption programs 

-Changing the physical environment through Crime Prevention organizations

-Preventing future risk and lessening the harms of violence exposure through hospital- community partnerships

-Strengthening economic support through job training and job programs

-Connecting youth to caring adults and activities such as mentorships

Ways to cope with community violence:

Know the facts. Do not get caught up in rumors!

Minimize media. Its okay to take a step back from the news for a mental and/or emotional break. Reading or watching the news too much can make you feel worse. 

Make a plan with loved ones. Talk with friends and family about what to do in case of an emergency. Having a plan can help you feel more at ease and in control. 

Distract yourself. Do things that you can control like working, exercise, socializing with f riends/family, etc.

-Be healthy. Stress can affect your health, so take care of your body with adequate meals, exercise and sleep!

By: Megan Eckles

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event through experience or witnessing (Mayo Clinic, 2022).

In the DSM-5 there is a distinction between PTSD in those 6 years of age and up, and those under the age of 6.

Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, does not meant that a person will automatically develop PTSD. 

What does PTSD look like?

  • Adults-NAMI (2022) notes that PTSD characterized generally by 3 categories:
    • Re-experiencing type symptoms- which can include flashback, intrusive thoughts, and bad dreams
    • Cognitive and mood symptoms- issues with recalling the evet and/or negative thoughts about self
    • Arousal symptoms- the state of hypervigilance or exaggerated responses
  • Children 
    • According to Stanford Children’s Heath (2022), children and teens with PTSD feel a lot of emotional and physical distress when exposed to situations that remind them of the traumatic event. Some may relive the trauma repeatedly.
  • Children (under the age of 6)
    • Re-enacting the event 
    • Nightmares about the event

Treatment:

Treatment for PTSD is similar for both adults and children

  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive therapy 
    • Exposure therapy
    • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Medication 
    • Antidepressants
    • Anti-anxiety medication

Seeking help with PTSD symptoms as soon as possible is helpful for both client and family. 

When someone you know has PTSD:

  • Be aware and learn more about PTSD
  • Notice symptoms and warning signs, such as withdrawal or suicidal thinking 
  • Seek personal help or therapy 
  • Have a safe place if a loved one becomes abusive or violent 

Resources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=post-traumatic-stress-disorder-in-children-90-P02579

By: Hailey Robertson

In the United States, 1 in 5 adults experience a mental health problem each year (www.NAMI.org). The top 3 mental health diagnosis in men are Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Substance Use Disorder. 

Depression: 

  • Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. (www.mayoclinic.org)
  • Over 6 million men suffer from depression each year. Men typically experience symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, loss of interest in work, rather than feelings of sadness or worthlessness. 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health condition that occurs following witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event (www.mayoclinic.org)
  • According to the VA, six out of every 10 men experience at least one traumatic event in their lives. PTSD can develop weeks, months, or even years after the experience. 
  • Trauma related accidents are more likely to occur in men than women.

Substance Use Disorder: 

  • Substance Use Disorder is characterized by excessive use of psychoactive drugs, such as alcohol, pain medications, or illegal drugs. It can lead to physical, social, or emotional harm.
  • According to the CDC, men are twice as likely to binge drink than women. 
  • One in 5 men develop alcohol dependency during their lifetime. This results in men having a higher rate of alcohol-related deaths. 

Resources for help: 

  • Psychiatry: A psychiatrist can allow you to get the medications needed to treat your disorder. 
  • Therapy: A therapist can allow you to process your diagnoses and receive techniques available to use for treatment  
  • Support: A Client Support Specialist can allow you to build skills needed to help reduce the effects of your disorder 

Resources & References

https://www.mhanational.org/infographic-mental-health-men

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp

By: Megan Eckles

According to NAMI (2022) LGBTQI stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex. This community of people make up a wide range of gender identification and sexual orientation. 

The Facts:

  • Those in the LGBTQI community are twice more likely to experience a mental health condition, compared to that of heterosexuals
  • According to a 2013 survey, 40% of LGBTQI adults have experienced rejection from a family member or a close friend (NAMI, 2022). 
  • A 2019 school climate survey showed that 86% of LGBTQI youth reported being harassed or assaulted at school, which can significantly impact their mental health (NAMI, 2022).
  • High school students who identify as LGBTQI are four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to peers who identify as heterosexual.
  • 40% of adults who identify as transgender have attempted suicide, compared to the 5% of the general US population.

How can you help?

  • The Trevor Project- this program offers 5 key programs to help fight against suicide in the LGBTQI community. The programs include:
    • Crisis Services 
    • Peer Support
    • Research
    • Public Education 
    • Advocacy
  • SAIGE (Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities)- is a division of the American Counseling Association, that strives to educate and help those in the LGBTQI community. They offer courses and certifications for mental health professionals. 

Hotline Numbers 

  • LGBT National Hotline- 888-843-4564 Provides confidential peer support, information, local resources and more, for all ages.
  • LGBT National Youth Talkine- 800-246-7743 Provides youth with confidential peer support, information, local resources and more, for callers though age 25. 
  • LGBT National Senior Hotline- 888-234-7243 Provides senior callers, ages 50+ confidential peer support, information, local resources and more.

Resources:

http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org

https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/LGBTQI

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources?s=Talking+about+Suicide

By: Taylor Pemberton

Living with a mental health disorder can be difficult, frustrating, and exhausting. Research shows that medication and psychotherapy treatments can be very helpful, however, some individuals may need more day-to-day supports to feel more like oneself. Finding coping mechanisms may be time consuming but, with patience, also rewarding. 

Here are a few self-care supports and coping skills that may be helpful to add to your toolbox:

  1. Deep Breathing. Although breathing may sound cliché, it is one of the best skills to utilize in times of anxiety and panic. The repetition of the breathing helps send signals to the brain that everything will be okay by slowing down the heart rate. (NAMI.org)

-Some examples of this include the 5 3 7 method which suggests breathing in for 5 seconds, holding the breath for 3 seconds, and releasing the breath for 7 seconds. 

  1. Opposite-to-Emotion Thinking. This technique is exactly how it sounds…act in the opposite way that your emotions are telling you to act. 

-If your brain is upset and you feel the urge to isolate, then the opposite of this is to interact with others or be around others. If you are feeling anxious, combat the nervousness with calming techniques such as meditation or listening to music. If you are feeling manic, turn to something that can help stabilize you like daily routines. (NAMI.org)

  1. The 5 Senses. This is an effective way to utilize the physical space around you to ground you through times of high emotion or crisis. (NAMI.org)

-Think of 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste…or any variation of the 5!

  1. Get Active! Get physical, change up your environment, meditate, engage in your favorite activities, socialize with friends/family, etc. (Med.upenn.edu)
  1. Engage in Self-Care Strategies. Keep a journal, read a new book, go for a walk, gardening, DIY projects, art creations, take a nap, go for a relaxing bath, listen to music, etc. Self-care is most important when it is personalized to you! (Med.upenn.edu)

Resources

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/january-2019/self-help-techniques-for-coping-with-mental-illness

https://www.med.upenn.edu/bbl/assets/user-content/Strategies%20for%20Coping%20and%20Self-Care_Schmidt_PERC_15Jun2020.pdf

By: Taylor Pemberton

Although summer can be a time of fun and relaxation, many individuals report that summer can be difficult when dealing with mental health issues. Those who deal with anxiety and stress may find summer more overwhelming due to its “care free” nature and less structure of time and schedules. 

Some tips to help with taking care of your mental health this summer include:

  • Get active! Summer is a great time for heading outside, enjoying the sunshine, and getting those endorphins flowing. Some summer activities may include swimming, hiking, playing sports, going for a walk, rock climbing, and more. 
  • Don’t forget your goals. Goals are a great way to keep you motivated and on track towards something you want. Setting goals can also help you feel more structured during the summer where things may feel more chaotic.
  • Change of scenery. Changing up your environment can help your body take in new things and feel refreshed and recharged. This can be big, like going for a vacation, or small, like going on a walk or drive somewhere new!
  • Spend time outside. It is scientifically proven that being outside, getting fresh air, and taking in sunlight is good for you both mentally and physically. This can increase endorphins and serotonin levels leaving you feeling more happy, relaxed, and an overall increase in mood and attitude. 
  • Mindfulness and meditation. Stress and anxiety can take us out of the daily swing of things, and leave us feeling worried, nervous, and on edge. Practicing mindfulness and/or meditation can get us back in the present moment to feel more relaxed and at ease. Meditate using a cool app or practice mindfulness to your favorite music! 
  • Enjoy your time off. During the summer, it can be easy to get caught up in the things you need to do, or have been putting off; however, it is important to remember to make time for things you enjoy!
  • Create structure through scheduling. Many people, especially children, thrive on routine. Find something that keeps you or your family in routine to help promote less stress or anxiety. This can look like scheduled playdates, outings, daily chores, and more!

Resources

https://www.inspirewellness.com/post/how-to-maintain-good-mental-health-for-kids-during-summer-break

https://www.unh.edu/healthyunh/blog/psychological-health/2019/07/how-take-care-your-mental-health-summer

The week of May 2nd-8th is Screen-Free Week, this means that you take a break from all technology including the TV! The purpose of a screen-free week is to reinstate the joy of life outside of technology. 

Why is screen-free time important? This is because too much screen time can have harmful effects on children’s development. Here are some negative effects screen time can have: 

  • Children are rapidly learning the language at ages 1.5 to 3 years old. Studies show that these children learn better from a person than from a television show. Statistics have shown that those children who watched more tv than adult interactions performed less on reading tests in Elementary school. 
  • For children three or young, screen time can take away a crucial part of their development by limiting their exposed experiences and observations of the real world.
  • Premature thinning of the cortex in the brain using technology seven or more hours a day. This region is essential for cognitive functioning and is not supposed to start thinning until later development. 
  • Screens also impact the circadian rhythm and the production of melatonin. This is due to the blue light screen inhibiting melatonin production, decreasing sleep. 

What parental controls can be in place for safe screen time?

  • Watch TV shows with your child and add comments along the way to add personal commentary to help enable learning
  • Choose media-appropriate apps for your child
  • Keep meal-time, family time, and bedtime a screen-free space
  • Limit your own screen time because your child will modal after you
  • Set clear boundaries with all types of technology
  • Set specific time limits 
  • Plan ahead with consequences if technology rules are broken

Start today with monitoring and limiting technology use for you and your children. Challenge your family to participate in Screen-Free week May 2nd-8th 

Resources 

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Connected and content: Managing healthy technology use. American Psychological Association. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/topics/social-media-internet/healthy-technology-use

Coping with screens: 12 tips for balancing children’s mental health and technology use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children and Screens. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.childrenandscreens.com/media/press-releases/coping-with-screens-12-tips-for-balancing-childrens-mental-health-and-technology-use-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Save this to read later. Send to email 11 Min Read •Children’s Health. (2021, November 3). What does too much screen time do to kids’ brains? NewYork-Presbyterian. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://healthmatters.nyp.org/what-does-too-much-screen-time-do-to-childrens-brains/