Formally recognized in June 2008 and still currently recognized today, Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was created to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face about mental illness in the U.S.
Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked tirelessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities of color (BIPOC).
In this blog, we’ll focus on three community-developed systems of support created to fill gaps within mainstream healthcare systems by taking into account cultural factors important to many individuals in our community: community care, self-directed care, and culturally-based practices.
Community care describes how communities of color provide support for one another. This includes resources provided by non-profit agencies, local peer support groups, healing circles at places of worship, and more.
Think about it this way: Community care encourages individuals to consider their own mental health as an extension of the community’s well-being in which they belong. Individuals who may feel disconnected from their community due to social exclusion, violence, trauma, and other life circumstances tend to isolate themselves. Through community care, individuals can find belonging, connection, and collective support in a welcoming environment; all factors which are tied to an improved mental health recovery, overall well-being, and a vibrant community of care.
Self-directed care is an innovative practice that stresses the ability of people with mental health or substance abuse conditions to have decision-making authority over the services they receive. Considering individual recovery and wellness goals, individuals are empowered to take ownership of how their mental health needs are met.
This allows individuals to work within their cultural preferences, like language and communication styles, and diversity among providers. When individuals take responsibility for their own care, they can feel motivated towards recovery.
Culturally-based care refers to customs, values, and healing techniques passed down through generations within different cultures. Culturally-based practices provide a safe space for individuals to share their thoughts without the need for an explanation or justification for feelings. It can also provide comfort, trust, and safe spaces for people to talk about mental health issues and ask for help and support.
Communities often have different culturally-based practices that form part of their daily lives and social interactions. These include multigenerational households, storytelling, energy healing, and prayer circles.
An important place to start is recognizing when mental health care and support are needed. The next step is to research what systems of care exist in your local community beyond traditional healthcare systems as it relates to your own culture and belief systems. To learn about community resources for people of color, visit floridahealth.gov.