Mental health conditions don’t discriminate. People of all ages, sexual orientations, and income levels may struggle with their mental health.

This is true when it comes to mental health and ethnicity. Certain cultural backgrounds do not make people more or less likely to develop mental health problems. Certain backgrounds do not determine whether treatments will be effective.

But although mental health and treatments affect us all, there are different ways that different groups relate to mental health and assistance. This is especially important to remember in July, which is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

According to Thomas G. McGuire and Jeanne Miranda, “racial and ethnic minorities have less access to mental health services than do whites, are less likely to receive needed care and are more likely to receive poor quality care when treated.” Not receiving such vital assistance may create a number of negative outcomes.

Members of minority groups may not seek mental health assistance for various reasons, but there are ways they may overcome this.

Lack of money and insurance

Health care is often expensive. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covers mental health and addiction services, people may still struggle to pay for their insurance, medical visits, or medications.

Fortunately, people may be able to access government programs and private organizations that may help pay for their medical care or introduce them to various forms of assistance. If people contact medical offices, hospitals, and treatment facilities, they may be able to establish payment schedules or make arrangements, such as paying for services on a sliding scale.

Language barriers

Members of minority groups may speak languages other than English and may thus have trouble accessing mental health and medical care. Or, they may not have the confidence to address sometimes complex medical and insurance terms.

They may want to ask English-speaking friends and relatives for help. This assistance may help them find patient advocates who may help people understand medical and insurance terminology, no matter what language they speak. It may also help them find online resources in different languages.

Cultural practices and beliefs

Some cultures may believe that experiencing mental health conditions or seeking help for such conditions are signs of weakness. For example, some Asian American cultures say that mental health conditions may create a loss of face, or a blow to their and their family’s reputations.

But if they go online, they’ll see that they’re not odd exceptions that threaten to destroy their families. Instead, they’ll see just how common they are. They’ll find sites that celebrate that July is national minority mental health awareness month. The sites illustrate how people of all backgrounds may struggle with their mental health and include tips on where to find help.

Stigmas

Discrimination against mental health conditions and mental health assistance exists in the larger society. Discrimination and stigma sometimes scare people from seeking the assistance they need.

Silence breeds stigmas, so consider talking about mental health. You don’t have to bare the most intimate details of your life, but if other people are sharing their own stories or talking about mental health in general, consider discussing your own life or asking a few respectful questions. Bringing things into the open may help us better understand and treat mental health issues instead of hiding or neglecting what’s happening.

While members of minority groups sometimes face obstacles regarding their mental health, they can overcome them. Although July is national minority mental health awareness month, it’s important for all people to address their mental health all year long.

About the author: Pamela Zuber is a writer and editor who has written about a wide variety of topics, including physical and mental health, addiction, politics, and gender.

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