Mental health has become more a part of the daily conversation than in the past. A topic that may have seemed taboo to some is serving as an outlet for healing, understanding, and more compassion in society. However, an individual’s culture and identity may bring obstacles to treatment.
Initially Facing Mental Health
While some may have no problem seeking help, minority groups struggle as they face stigmas and less access to care. The American Psychiatric Association said that many racial and sexual minority groups “suffer from poor mental health outcomes due to multiple factors including inaccessibility of high-quality mental health care services, the cultural stigma surrounding mental health care, discrimination, and overall lack of awareness about mental health.”
To combat this and increase awareness, July has been named minority mental health month, with this year’s theme being “Better Health Through Better Understanding.” The Office of Minority Health said they chose this theme to bring more culturally and linguistically competent healthcare services and resources.
Dr. Chrysalis Wright’s Research
“Cultural differences might lead to mental health struggles, like depression, stress, and anxiety; all of those are very different. And mental health professionals can’t address those issues without understanding them, right?” Dr. Chrysalis Wright, associate lecturer in the psychology department at UCF, said. “So you have to have a better understanding to provide better mental health services for groups different from yourself.”
Additionally, while getting her Ph.D. at FIU in Miami, Wright researched parental absence and academic achievement in immigrant students for her dissertation. She was inspired by seeing many of the students her children went to school with at the time as immigrants and from families with different backgrounds; she said she was intrigued to see how her research topics affected them.
Wright found parental absence to take another form for these families as some went through serial migration, where a family may have to split up and come into a country at different times. She observed that migrating to a new country at a young age and leaving everything familiar behind can be taxing for children. Furthermore, she was particularly interested in studying how these factors and separation from loved ones might influence their academic performance.
Applying Mental Health Research to the Real World
Seeing her research firsthand, she said she realized having a better understanding of minority mental health should not just be something for counselors or psychologists but for anyone who may be interacting with minority groups.
“We also need to be very aware of people’s differences, and differences do not necessarily mean bad things. It’s nice to be able to celebrate our differences among different groups of people, cultures, religions,” Wright said. “It’s nice to see that we all have something unique and are contributing that to the United States because that’s what we do.”
To gain a better understanding of minority mental health, Wright says to appreciate differences from the beginning, embrace cultural values, and involve yourself in interactions with those with different backgrounds. Instead of seeing minority mental health as something to be aware of during July, Wright encourages people to learn, respect, and value other cultures and their journeys year-round.
“So instead of focusing on, you know, mental health just one month out of the year, this needs to be something that our society focuses on year-round, and especially for counselors and therapists who work hands-on with helping people understanding diversity and different cultural traditions and experiences needs to be something you know, that they focus on with their with their clients,” Wright said.
For more information on mental health issues among minorities, visit https://www.apa.org/pi/disability/resources/mental-health-disparities.
For more local news and updates, visit https://www.centralfloridalifestyle.com/.