July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Featuring Bebe Moore Cambell
Prepared by Patricia L. Griffen, Ph.D.
“Once my loved one accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans. The message must go on billboards and in radio and TV public service announcements. It must be preached from pulpits and discussed in community forums. It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.”
–Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005
About Bebe Moore Campbell and the Month
Bebe Moore Campbell was an accomplished author, advocate, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and national spokesperson, who passed away in November 2006. She received NAMI’s 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature (see works below). Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities.
In 2005, inspired by Campbell’s charge to eliminate stigma and provide mental health information, longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd suggested dedicating a month to the effort. When Campbell reacted with, “You can’t just do that,” Wharton-Boyd responded, “Claim it!” And together they did.
The duo got to work, outlining the concept of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and what it would entail. With the support of the D.C. Department of Mental Health and then-mayor Anthony Williams, they held a news conference in Southeast D.C., where they encouraged residents to get mental health checkups. Support continued to build as Campbell and Wharton-Boyd held book signings, spoke in churches and created a National Minority Mental Health Taskforce of friends and allies.
However, the effort came to a halt when Campbell became too ill to continue. When Campbell lost her battle to cancer, Wharton-Boyd and a cadre of friends, family and ally advocates reignited their cause, fueled by the passion to honor the life of an extraordinary woman.The task force members researched and obtained the support of Representatives Albert Wynn [D-MD] and Diane Watson [D-CA], who co-signed legislation to create an official minority mental health awareness month.
In May 2008 the US House of Representatives proclaimed July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group, was passed in recognition that:
Improved access to mental health treatment and services and public awareness of mental illness are of paramount importance; and An appropriate month should be recognized as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.
- According to the Mental Health Report prepared by Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher: Minorities:
- Are less likely to receive diagnosis and treatment for their mental illness
- Have less access to and availability of mental health services
- Often receive poorer quality of mental health care
- Are underrepresented in mental health research
The Arkansas Psychological Association is committed to providing resources and opportunities to develop cultural awareness and competence for working with diverse populations. This is the first step to prepare to meet the mental health needs of culturally diverse populations to include minority groups. Dr. Nick Rios, current co-chair of the ArPA Diversity Committee has made a number of opportunities available for ArPA members to participate throughout the year to expand awareness, knowledge and competence in working with miniorti8y populations.
We invite you to participate in the following events throughout the year. Below is the schedule of Diversity Committee Gatherings. Events will be held in the Saint Vincent DePaul Room.
- Saturday, October 10th, in Little Rock, Ventanilla de Salud, Human Development Corporation, and Arkansas Department of Health will be hosting National Latino Aids Awareness Day. In Conway, UCA, Arkansas Hispanic Health Coalition, and the Minority Health Commission will be hosting the UCA Amigo Cup and Health Fair. We will be distributing mental health information and resources in Spanish, and screening for anxiety and depression at both events.
- Friday, September 18, 2015 at 5:30pm– LATINO Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead celebration and discussion of clinical use of Latino practices
- September 15- October 15: Hispanic Heritage Month. This month corresponds with Mexican Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16, and recognizes the revolution in 1810 that ended Spanish dictatorship.
- Friday, November 20, 2015 at 5:30pm – AMERICAN INDIAN Smudging Ceremony and role of traditional healers. November is National Native American Heritage Month, which celebrates the history and contributions of Native Americans.
- Friday, February 19, 2016 at 5:30pm – AFRICAN AMERICAN Celebration and/or Discussion. February is Black History Month in the United States and Canada. Since 1976, the month has been designated to remember the contributions of people of the African Diaspora.
- April 2016 at 5:30pm – JEWISH Celebration and/or Discussion. April is Celebrate Diversity Month, which started in 2004 to recognize and honor the diversity surrounding us all. By celebrating differences and similarities during this month, organizers hope that people will get a deeper understanding of each other.
- June 2016– LGBT Conway Festival. June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, established to recognize the impact that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on the world. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual groups celebrate this special time with pride parades, picnics, parties, memorials for those lost to hate crimes and HIV/AIDS, and other group gatherings. The last Sunday in June is Gay Pride Day.