Though it's been a busy summer, I could not let July pass without touching Minority Mental Health Month. Yes that is a thing, a very important thing, especially when you consider numerous studies reveal minority women are more likely to experience postpartum depression. Many go untreated for their symptoms. In Florida, nearly 60% of mothers reported feeling symptoms of Postpartum Depression, and less than 10% actually sought treatment following diagnosis. Non-Hispanic Black women are at the highest risk for experiencing these symptoms (PRAMS 2010).
This is simply not okay. Tampa Bay, we can do better. Florida, we definitely can do better.
However, this isn't going to be another post where we demonstrate our knowledge of appalling statistics.
Break the Silence for #MinorityMentalHealth
July is minority mental health month and as a minority and the daughter of an adult living with bipolar disorder, this topic hits so close to home. I know too well the seriousness of mental health. However, this is not the case with all minorities. Do you know that for the general population, 15-20% of women will suffer from Postpartum Depression? Do you know that for non-white, low-income women, the numbers are nearly doubled?
More often than I’d care to admit, I’ve witnessed minorities neglect to recognize or acknowledge the symptoms of mental health disorders. This lack of support is so damaging to the person living with the disorder; it can be difficult to recover and the results can be deadly. Even though the likelihood of mental illness is higher in minority populations, detection and treatment rates are less than half that of non-minority women. If you know someone whom you suspect may be suffering from a mental illness, it is essential that you break the silence. Urge them to get help, and even go with them to get it if they need that support. Enough of the “it’s not my business” or “they just need a life change” or “we’ve never needed help before” or even “that’s not a problem we have” talk because if you care and you don’t act with timeliness, you could be a not-so-innocent bystander to great tragedy.
Also, no one should ever make the mistake of thinking that children and teenagers are immune to mental illness. Mental illness does not discriminate. Many of the stressors that minorities and low-income families experience are the very same triggers for depression; and children go through the stress of challenges and disparities in their environment. My own journey with mental illness began at the age of 13; my mom was wise enough to recognize the issue and took me to get counseling immediately. I am so grateful because that counsel saved my life and gave me excellent coping skills that I use to this day. Please, never turn a blind eye to anyone living with mental illness.
For those of us living with mental illness:
Getting help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of wisdom and courage.
Mental illness is nothing to be shrugged at, and people suffering from it need the support of loved ones. There is no question about it. If you are a minority, and you aren’t living with it yourself, you almost certainly know someone who is. Please be that beacon of hope for them and lead them to good counsel
 Sampson, PhD, Duron, PhD, Maldonado Torres, M., et al. A Disease You Just Caught: Low-Income African American Mothers’ Cultural Beliefs About Postpartum Depression. Women’s Healthcare. Nov, 2014.
Each walk is different, but we walk together, and that makes all the