National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month 2012

  • July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

     

    Years ago, the National Alliance on Mental Illness website offered spotty coverage of this.  Today, it's front-and-center.  Still, I wish their Multicultural Action Center had a prominent link featured on the upper left column of the NAMI home page.  Instead, it's buried in lower case letters on the bottom right under the heading multicultural.

     

    This might be a moot point, because the homepage is generally hard to navigate and a graphics eyesore to read.

     

    The point is, this year NAMI gets it right.

     

    From the introduction:

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    Bebe Moore Campbell was an accomplished author, advocate, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and national spokesperson, who passed away in November 2006.

     

    She received NAMI's 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature for the book Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, written especially for children, about a young girl who learns how to cope with her mother's bipolar illness.

     

    In 2005, her novel 72-Hour Hold focused on an adult daughter and a family's experience with the onset of mental illness. It helped educate Americans that the struggle often is not just with the illness, but with the healthcare system as well.

     

    Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals with mental illness and their families of diverse communities.

     

    I provide links at the bottom of this article to noteworthy news about this month should you not want to disrupt your reading with mid-stream links.  I wrote about African American Mental Health in detail in 2010, so you can read this now too.

     

    NAMI's Multicultural Action Center Resources are available on the Internet as well.

     

    The NAMI Sharing Hope initiative links African American congregations with tools, resources and support for people in their communities who live with mental illnesses and the community members who can support them and offer help.

     

    In 2007, when I first started working here, I posted Play Ball: An Interview With DJ about one guy's experiences with the mental health system.  What I didn't mention in that SharePost was that although he developed schizophrenia symptoms, he wasn't given traditional SZ meds because the staff astutely realized his hallucinations were caused by alcoholism.  Shortly after he got sober, the visual hallucinations stopped completely.

     

    This is one of the rare examples where medication is not always needed.  He takes an anti-depressant for Seasonal Affective Disorder, a lingering symptom.

     

    In the original SharePost, he credits Isabella, a counselor, with taking an interest in him.  I also know someone who is Asian who trusts his therapist because she respects him and listens to him.

     

    Developing trust and a working relationship with counselors and doctors is often a barrier for various reasons.  I explain this in my 2010 article.

     

    An outspoken individual, Jessica Lynn Gimeno, of Filipino heritage, is featured on the NAMI homepage this month. 

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    Her story is truly inspiring as she battled racism and went on to develop another medical condition.  She wisely figured out on her own that she had bipolar and sought help on her own, leading to a diagnosis and treatment. 

     

    Gimeno graduated cum laude from Northwestern University with two majors.  She works for the Balanced Minds Foundation, which connects families whose kids have mood disorders with mental health help.

     

    Do take the survey when you go on the NAMI homepage to help them create a better website.  Yes, I took the survey.  The website definitely needs improving.

     

    It's early in July, so I hope the information I've provided enables those of you who are interested to create activities in your neighborhood geared to National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

     

    You can also go on the NAMI website and subscribe to the Multicultural Action Center's Recovery For All newsletter.

     

    African American Mental Health

     

    Multicultural Action Center Resources

     

    NAMI Sharing Hope

     

    Play Ball: An Interview With DJ

     

    Jessica Lynn Gimeno

Published On: July 08, 2012