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July is Mental Health Awareness Month: Thank you Soror Bebe Moore Campbell

It’s July and it’s the middle of National Mental Health Awareness Month. Did you know it was named so for Soror  and IBTW Bebe Moore Campbell?

An accomplished author, Soror Campbell advocated for mental health education and supported among individuals with mental illness and their families in several forms, including literary.

In 2005, the idea for a minority mental health awareness month came out of a conversation Campbell had with longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd. Inspired by Soror Campbell’s charge to eliminate stigma and provide mental health information, Wharton-Boyd suggested dedicating a month to the effort. The two then started a multi-year campaign to make this awareness month a reality. In May 2008, Congress passed a bill to create the awareness month and declared July Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

Has your soror, mother, sister, loved one, or friend come to you with a mental problem? In the midst of a recession, it’s a little more common than you think . It’s not simply about “depression” or “post partum” or those commercials on tv, but severe mental health illness can be a reality, especially in African American communities.

Don’t let this month go without talking to someone about mental illness

Here are some statistics on African Americans and mental health:

  • Poverty level affects mental health status. African Americans living below the poverty level, as compared to those over twice the poverty level, are 3 times more likely to report psychological distress.
  • African Americans are 20% more likely to report having serious psychological distress than Non-Hispanic Whites.
  • Whites are more than twice as likely to receive antidepressant prescription treatments as are Blacks.
  • The death rate from suicide for African American men was almost six times that for African American women, in 2008.
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 – 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233%.

Learn more about mental health. Need some resources to tell others in your community? Click here.

Resources and tools were linked from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) site. Click here for more.

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