BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Mental Health Month was created to spread awareness of the mental health needs of communities of color and the inequality BIPOC people face in receiving mental health care.
The idea for BIPOC Mental Health Month was first developed by Bebe Moore Campbell, an advocate for mental health care and education in BIPOC communities. July was officially established to commemorate it in 2006.
The Importance of BIPOC Mental Health Month
We raise awareness for BIPOC mental health because people of color face unique challenges in getting mental health care.
BIPOC adults with a mental illness are less likely to get mental health treatment than white adults with a mental illness. Nearly half of white adults with a mental illness get treatment. For Hispanic and Latinx adults, that percentage is 33%; for mixed-race adults, it’s 32%; for Black adults, it’s 31%; and for Asian adults, it’s 25%.
Economic disparities due to structural racism are one cause. BIPOC individuals are more likely to be uninsured than white adults in the U.S. As we know, getting health care is often inaccessible and costly without insurance.
People of color benefit from getting mental health care from providers that understand their identity. Yet, the majority of mental health care workers are white. Cultural incompetence and language barriers are shown to cause errors in diagnosing BIPOC.
Racial Battle Fatigue
With the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on BIPOC, the murder of George Floyd, continued police violence, and an election year, the events of the past year may have caused BIPOC to experience what is known as racial battle fatigue.
In 2003, Professor William A. Smith of the University of Utah created and defined the term “racial battle fatigue” as psychological distress that results from racial trauma Black people experience in predominantly white spaces. This trauma comes from microaggressions, systemic racism, and racist abuse. When all these cumulate, marginalized people can experience fatigue, anxiety, grief, frustration, or depression.
Though Smith studied racial battle fatigue in Black men enrolled in historically white colleges, the theory can be applied to how racism affects mental health on a broader scale.
If you believe you’re experiencing this, know that you’re not alone. Unfortunately, feeling fatigue is a common issue, which Smith says must be solved by tackling the root of the issue: racism itself. But there are also things you can do for yourself on an individual level.
- Minnesota State University Mankato has a resource on coping with racial battle fatigue.
- Read this article or this article on coping with racism and racial trauma.
- Here is a great article on finding a BIPOC therapist and funding your treatment.
- Find a list of Minnesota BIPOC wellness providers here.
Guild is Here for You
At Guild, we know healing means embracing all aspects of your identity and experiences. Looking for mental health services? Call our Community Access line at (651) 925-8490.
BIPOC Mental Health Month, Mental Health America.
Learn About Bebe Moore Campbell Minority Mental Health Month, National Alliance on Mental Illness.
July is BIPOC Mental Health Month, Mental Health Minnesota.
Mental Health Care Matters, National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Black and African American Communities and Mental Health, Mental Health America.
Latinx/Hispanic Communities and Mental Health, Mental Health America.
Native and Indigenous Communities and Mental Health, Mental Health America.
How Diverse is the Psychology Workforce?, American Psychological Association.
Racism and Mental Health, Mental Health America.
BIPOC Communities and COVID-19, Mental Health America.
Assume the Position . . . You Fit the Description, American Behavioral Scientist.
Understanding Racial Battle Fatigue, University of Utah.