It’s Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Here’s why it matters.

This month is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, and I don’t need to tell you why that’s important — let me roll that back. Yes, I do need to tell you. That’s the whole point of this month.  

Major disparities exist in mental health care between minorities and white people. There are many barriers that keep minorities from seeking care, such as language differences, different cultural perceptions about mental illness (stigma!), racism/discrimination, vulnerability to being uninsured and mistrust/fear of doctors and/or treatment.  

Recently while discussing mental health care with a colleague, he brought up the fact that it’s hard to find doctors who look like him. He has a good point. The majority of mental health treatment providers in the U.S. are white. Approximately 86 percent of psychologists are white and less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members are African American, according to  

It makes sense. I prefer women doctors and choose them when I can. I could see myself being uncomfortable if I couldn’t find a doctor who looks like me, couldn’t relate to me or who wasn’t culturally competent. This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s huge, especially when you’re being treated for mental health. It’s such a private, vulnerable ordeal, and the stigma is still there, more so in some cultures.  

Compared to those in other racial/ethnic backgrounds, Asian Americans are least likely to receive mental treatment — only 20 percent of Asian adults with a mental illness received treatment in 2020, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This is due to many systemic barriers, which are worsened by stigma and lack of culturally relevant and integrated care.  

Only 37 percent of Black adults with mental illness receive treatment, compared to 35 percent of Hispanic/Latinx adults. The U.S. average number of people who receive help for a mental health condition is 46 percent.  

Also note that 17 percent of Hispanic/Latinx people in the U.S. live in poverty (compared to 8.2 percent of non-Hispanic whites). Those who live in poverty have a higher risk of mental illness and those with mental health conditions have a higher risk of living in poverty. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2019, 20 percent of Hispanic people had no form of health insurance.  

That shocks me. I can’t imagine someone with my laundry list of diagnoses with no way to see a doctor or take medicine. Or go to a private hospital for six weeks. That’s privilege, and that’s exactly why we need awareness months like this one.  

And even though important conversations have been started to break down stigma, I worry that it’s not enough. But I’ll keep talking.  

Is pointing out these glaring disparities enough? Again, I’ll keep talking, but maybe I don’t need to be doing all the talking.

What else will it take?  

NAMI Greater Corpus Christi  

Minority Mental Health Awareness Event 

Where: Del Mar College – Retama Room 

When: 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 21

What: You’re invited to listen to a panel sharing lived experience about navigating mental health as a minority.  RSVP to  

For more than 20 years, Heather Loeb has experienced major depression, anxiety and a personality disorder, while also battling the stigma of mental health. She is the creator of Unruly Neurons (, a blog dedicated to normalizing depression and a member of State Rep. Todd Hunter’s Suicide Prevention Taskforce.  


Now more than ever we need to take care of our mental health. Guest columnist Heather Loeb discusses why and explores other important mental health topics in this special series.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.