July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month


Dear Lead Servant:

The recent community and global tragedies that we have faced within the first 20 days of July has been overwhelming for us all. The Board of Directors and staff of Alliance for Greater Works continue to keep each person, family, and community affected by the violence in our prayers. Its times like these that remind us of the importance of mental health in our society.

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in May in the United States since 1949—that is until recently, the immense amount of pressure and stressors in minority communities aided and abetted the rise of a second month—July. For this reason, Alliance for Greater Works™ has dedicated this month’s e-new focus around the mind and thinking in support of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

Mental health affects one in five adults and one in ten children in America. Mental illness is also the leading cause of disability, yet there are numerous barriers that limit minorities from receiving proper mental health treatment. As a result of these barriers, in 2008 the U.S. House of Representatives declared July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This was an effort to improve access to mental health treatment and services through increasing public awareness, hoping to reduce the stigmas that remain for minority communities. Limited access to mental health treatment, limited receipt of treatment, language barriers and higher levels of stigma contribute to the lack of mental health treatment for minorities.

In addition to the barriers listed, poverty significantly impacts mental health. African-Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are 3 times more likely to report psychological distress. African-Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites; however, Non-Hispanic Whites are more than twice as likely to receive antidepressant prescription treatments as are Non-Hispanic Blacks. Minorities are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care. Also, many African-Americans are either uninsured or under-insured which adversely affects the quality of mental health treatment they receive.

In an effort to reduce the stigma of mental health in the African-American church, The HOGG Foundation the African-American Faith-Based Mental Health initiative. This initiative seeks to increase the awareness and perceptions of mental health, recovery and wellness in African American communities. A collective of 10 churches across the State of Texas are working together as a team to find ways to reduce the stigma attached to African-Americans and mental health. In addition, they seek to educate their respective churches/communities to recognize the signs of mental health illness. Alliance for Greater Works serves as the technical assistance and capacity building partner of the initiative.

Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is a concerted effort to expose the truth about mental health as well as increase awareness of how prevalent many of these illnesses exist in the African-American community. Stay tuned for more information on the upcoming African-American Faith-Based Mental Health Conference, September 17 in Houston, TX and November 5 in Dallas, TX. To financially support or to volunteer for the conferences, please contact the Alliance for Greater Works office.

To learn more about our African-American Faith-Based Mental Health initiative, visit www.allianceforgreaterworks.org or www.aafbmh.org


Sherrye Willis
Founder and President



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