The month of May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States since 1949. It was founded by the Mental Health America organization (then known as the National Association for Mental Health) in order to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illness, including conditions like depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Mental Health Month aims to raise awareness regarding the trauma and societal impact that mental illness can have on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children, families, and communities as a whole.
Successful Mental Health Awareness Efforts
Over the past 20 years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and other organizations within the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services have been making great strides in their efforts to increase the importance of understanding, openness, treatment, and prevention of mental health issues.
Some of the most successful efforts that have promoted acceptance, support, prevention, and recover from mental health conditions include but are not limited to:
- The Affordable Care Act – This act expanded health insurance coverage to approximately 30 million Americans. An estimated 11 million of these individuals will now have access to substance abuse and/or mental health service needs.
- The Community Mental Health Services Block Grant – This grant provides financial assistance to states and territories to carry out state plans to offer comprehensive community-based mental health services and evidence-based practices to adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances.
- Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 – This act eliminated the practice of unequal health treatment and improved access to much needed mental health and substance use disorder treatment services through more equitable insurance coverage.
- The Garrett Lee Smith State/Tribal Suicide Prevention Program – This program facilitates coordination across government agencies and the private sector in the development, implementation, and evaluation of youth suicide prevention and early intervention plans among youth-serving institutions, such as schools, educational institutions, juvenile justice systems, substance abuse programs, primary care, mental health programs, foster care systems, and other organizations.
Each year, many organizations choose to host awareness observances and campaigns throughout the month of May and over the course of the year. National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day is one such event, as well as Minority Mental Health Month, Mental Illness Awareness Week, National Depression Screening Day, and many more.
Bebe Moore Cambell and the Establishment of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
“While everyone – all colors – everyone is affected by stigma – no one wants to say ‘I’m not in control of my mind.’ No one wants to say, ‘The person I love is not in control of [their] mind.’ But people of color really don’t want to say it because we already feel stigmatized by virtue of skin color or eye shape or accent and we don’t want any more reasons for anyone to say, ‘You’re not good enough.’’” —Bebe Moore Campbell
Those who regularly struggle with mental health are often already ostracized by society, but those with mental health issues who also happen to be Black, Indigenous, or People of Color have it especially rough.
This specific issue was brought to national attention by Bebe Moore Campbell, an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked tirelessly to shed some light on the mental health needs of the Black community in the U.S., as well as several other underrepresented groups of people.
Throughout her life, Campbell struggled to support her daughter, who battled mental illness, in a system that actively prevented minorities from being able to get the help and support they needed in regards to mental and emotional well-being.
In order to create a safe space for Black individuals to talk openly about mental health concerns, she eventually founded NAMI-Inglewood in a predominantly Black neighborhood of California.
During her time as an advocate, Bebe Moore Campbell eventually found her way to Washington D.C., where her efforts successfully convinced Congress to formally recognize Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Month as a way to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face in regards to mental illness in the United States.
You Are Never Alone
If you are one of the millions of Ameircans who face the reality of living with mental health struggles each and every day, remember that you are not alone. Together, the entire nation continues to raise awareness and lend support to one another in the hopes of materializing a country where anyone affected by mental illness can get the quality of care they need in order to live happy, fulfilling lives.
At Lehigh Center For Clinical Research, we strive to make the world a better place for those who deal with mental health issues each and every day. Our team sets a higher standard in delivering both quality and care to our participants and reliable clean data to our pharmaceutical partners. Our study experience is diverse and effective, and we’d love for you to come and see that for yourself.
If you’re interested in being a part of our journey to create better lives for those suffering from mental health disorders, click here to check out how you can get involved in one of our many ongoing studies or clinical trials. We look forward to seeing you!