Minority (BIPOC) Mental Health Month
Here are four steps in supporting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, Person Of Color) individuals and their mental health. I’m proud to be a writer again for this year’s Minority Mental Health Month. Rather than a breakdown of what this month entails (read here for that post), I’ll take a cue from Mental Health First Aid and offer four ways you can be more informed about this topic navigating mental health and addiction:
Learn - In a season where navigating anti-racism, seeing people more vividly in the BIPOC community, and supporting immigrant entrepreneurs and small business owners, take time to learn about your city demographics and mental health needs. Did you know that according to DataUSA that of the 80.9K population of Somerville, MA the 5 largest ethnic groups are White (Non-Hispanic) (68.2%), Asian (Non-Hispanic) (10.2%), White (Hispanic) (7.56%), Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (5.6%), and Two+ (Non-Hispanic) (2.62%)?
Respect - A very important presentation an ally can show to a BIPOC individual is one of acceptance and respect of their experience. Even as a POC, I can practice positioning myself in a way that does not judge, criticize, or minimize what my fellow BIPOC peer feels/experiences. There is both a place to listen as a means to helping someone feel seen and heard and there’s a place to speak as an act of showing validation, support and ally-ship.
Ask - Being curious and asking questions is vital to understanding the BIPOC experience including how their ethnicity can intersect with their mental health and/or addiction experience in a country where they are the minority. Wanting to understand a BIPOC peer’s experience from a place of respect can help your BIPOC friend/family member/co-worker experience validation in circumstances where they can feel they are being treated differently.
Center - Lastly, as we navigate supporting our BIPOC peers in understanding their mental health or addiction-spectrum experience, encourage them to pursue their own recovery experience as it aligns with their cultural/ethnic/religious/spiritual practices as all of these can easily intersect with one another. This can include finding a provider or institution that aligns with these listed values.
Here are a few resources BIPOC individuals can access to improve their quality of care/treatment:
Lou Lim, LMHC, REAT is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.
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