“Man up! Boys don’t cry!”
“Wipe your face. You’re a strong black woman. You’ll be fine.”
“Stop acting bipolar.”
“There’s nothing wrong with you. You just want attention.”
“People are gonna think you’re loco/crazy if you keep acting like that.”
Have you ever found yourself saying or hearing any of the above phrases or something similar? These are all phrases that cause stigma around mental health. July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This month Teen Health Mississippi wants to highlight ways to combat mental health stigma and bring awareness to mental health services and resources.
Mental health challenges can vary. A challenge could be having a sad day or a bad week. It could also be experiencing a crisis that needs immediate attention such as hallucinations or suicidal thoughts that include a plan. Oftentimes young people don’t know how to express the mental health challenges they are facing, or they may be afraid of being labeled and stigmatized. It is very important for young people to know they have trusted adults whom they can turn to when facing a mental health challenge or crisis, no matter how big or small it may seem. Young people can also serve as great supports for each other with the right knowledge and skills.
Here are some things you can do to better equip yourself and the young people around you to support young people who may be facing mental health challenges:
Change your language. Here are a few things you may want to try:
- Instead of saying “committed suicide,” try saying “died by suicide.”
- Instead of saying “crazy house” or “looney bin,” try saying “mental health facility.”
- Avoid language that diagnoses someone such as “you’re acting bipolar.”
- Use person-first language. For example, instead of saying “they are schizophrenic,” you can say “they are living with schizophrenia.”
Contact us to schedule a training for your organization or join us for one of our upcoming trainings. Our training offerings related to mental health are:
- Youth Mental Health First Aid (Adult to Youth) and Teen Mental Health First Aid (Youth to Youth)
- What’s Up with Teens These Days?
- Cyberbullying: Recognizing Signs & Intervening
- Building Self-Esteem and Body Confidence among Teens
- Intimate Partner Violence
Follow the Project Mind Elevation (@mindelevationms) page for information about youth mental, sexual, and reproductive health. If you really want to step it up a notch for getting resources in the hands of youth, apply to be a part of the ME. Project.
Minority Mental Health Awareness is officially observed for a month but young people need year-round support. We hope that you can use some of the resources and training in this article to make a positive impact on your own mental health and the mental health of those around you.
Here are some minority mental health statistics from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration* In the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health survey:
- 11.2% of Asian adolescents had thoughts of suicide. 4.4% made a suicide plan. 2.9% attempted suicide.
- In 2021, 1 in 7 (14.0%) Black adolescents had a major depressive episode in the past year.
- 11.9% of Black adolescents had thoughts of suicide. 5.6% made a suicide plan. 4.1% attempted suicide.
- In 2021, 1 in 5 (22.2%) Hispanic adolescents had a major depressive episode (MDE) in the past year.
- Hispanic adolescents were more likely to have MDE than Black and Asian adolescents.
- 12.2% of Hispanic adolescents had thoughts of suicide. 7.0%made a suicide plan. 4.2%attempted suicide.
- In 2021,1 in 4 (27.2%) Multiracial adolescents had a major depressive episode in the past year.
- 16.8%of Multiracial adolescents had thoughts of suicide. 4.2% made a suicide plan. 2.7% attempted suicide.
*Many minority adolescents did not want to answer questions about suicide, which suggests that some minority adolescents could have had these thoughts but did not feel comfortable disclosing that information.