BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) youth face unique struggles when it comes to their mental health. From systemic oppression to trauma, there are many factors that can contribute to mental health concerns — and keep those who would benefit from treatment from receiving the help they need.
One way we’re increasing access to mental health care is by working to destigmatize BIPOC mental health. The stigma around BIPOC and mental health treatment keeps people from seeking help, and these individuals often face additional roadblocks and challenges in mental health treatment settings, from providers who don’t understand their cultural differences to unequal access to care. However, by increasing awareness and education about BIPOC mental health, we can work to reduce the stigma attached to treatment and help those in underserved communities find hope and healing.
Understanding Why Stigma Exists
The first step in working to destigmatize mental health treatment is to understand why the stigma exists in the first place. BIPOC communities are disproportionately affected by poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination. This can lead to feelings of shame, fear, and isolation that can make it difficult to seek help or even speak up about mental health struggles.
Silence around the topic of BIPOC concerns and mental health can also be the result of cultural differences, as some individuals may have grown up in a culture that doesn’t view mental health struggles as an issue worthy of attention, leaving youth who are struggling to feel alone and unheard.
Trauma related to discrimination and violence, particularly from those who are in positions of power, can also be a major factor in BIPOC mental health struggles. When those who could provide help and support instead perpetuate racism and bias, BIPOC individuals are left with a sense that they’re unheard and unsupported.
How Parents and Professionals Can Help Destigmatize BIPOC Mental Health
Parents, loved ones, friends, and professionals alike can take steps to help destigmatize mental health conditions and their treatment. Some of the steps that anyone can take include:
- Educate yourself on mental health – Take the time to learn more about mental health issues and what they look like. Listen to BIPOC voices telling their stories and try to understand the unique experiences these individuals face when it comes to mental health.
- Normalize the conversation around mental health – Start conversations about mental health with your family, friends, and peers. Let everyone know that it’s okay to talk about their struggles and that there are people who care about them and want to help.
- Provide a safe space for BIPOC youth – This community needs to know that it’s safe to talk about their mental health struggles and seek out professional help. Let them know you’re there to listen without judgment and provide whatever support they need.
One way professionals can help destigmatize BIPOC mental health is by providing culturally competent treatment and dispersing common myths about certain mental health concerns. This means taking the time to understand the unique experiences of BIPOC individuals and providing care that is tailored to their needs. Even taking the simple step of providing education about privacy laws can help some individuals feel more comfortable and safe when seeking care.
Mental Health Treatment at Ascend
Our commitment to making effective mental health treatment for young adults more accessible than ever includes making sure BIPOC individuals feel welcome and supported in their treatment. We offer culturally competent care that takes into account the unique experiences BIPOC youth face and we strive to destigmatize mental health wherever we can.
Through trauma-informed treatment with an emphasis on empowerment and family support, we guide clients on a journey of acceptance and change to ultimately help them reach their fullest potential. Ascend’s outpatient and residential treatment programs in California provide a safe, supportive space where youth can heal. Call us at 310.388.3713 to learn more.