Addressing Minority Mental Health with Onyx Therapy Group

By Meghan Wilhelm and Victoria Taylor, BWJP Communications Team

The time to break down barriers to mental health care for minorities is now.

We know that there are culturally-significant risk factors among female minority survivors of gender-based violence that dramatically exacerbate mental health challenges. Trauma and distress resulting from gender-based violence can lead to severe psychological repercussions, particularly within minority communities, as well as increased stigmatization and marginalization for minority groups that prevents victims from seeking adequate support and mental health resources.

BWJP recently partnered with Woke Media and Dr. LaNail R. Plummer, CEO of Onyx Therapy Group, to gather together and shed light on a crucial topic that demands our attention – Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This designated month serves as a powerful platform to raise awareness about mental health disparities among racial and ethnic populations in the United States.

We interviewed Dr. Plummer to delve into the barriers surrounding access to mental health opportunities and learn more about community-specific approaches, resources, and additional support available for the mental health of minority populations.

BWJP: What is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month?

Dr. Plummer: Minority Mental Health Awareness Month started in 2008, through the legal passing of the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month by Congress (NMMHM), designed to acknowledge the advocacy work of Bebe Moore Campbell, whose own daughter lived and battled with mental health. This month is designed to bring awareness to the mental health disparities amongst the racial and ethnic populations in comparison to the majority racial group in the United States. Due to various systemic and systematic processes and reinforcements, the minority populations in the United States live with, struggle, battle, or die from mental health issues that could be addressed and rectified with more awareness, advocacy, and action. In July, we add an additional emphasis on racial and ethnic minorities and the mental health illness that penetrate our communities.

BWJP: Why is it important to raise awareness about minority mental health?

Dr. Plummer: Black people are 30x more likely to identify with symptoms of depression. Hispanics are 50x less likely to receive mental health care. Suicide is the leading cause of death amongst Asian American youth, and Native Americans have the highest percentage of illicit substance use than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. The statistics are clear. Racial and gender minorities are dealing with and suffer from mental health issues at higher percentages than the majority racial group in the country. There are many factors that lead to these statistics, such as systemic racism, access to care, quality care, cultural competence and alignment, and fear of retaliation. 

BWJP: How can we address the barriers to mental health care for minorities?

Dr. Plummer: The barriers need to be addressed in various ways:

  • Systemically: Addressing systemic racism in laws, employment, access to care, housing, security, etc.
  • Within the Mental Health community: Cultural competency, addressing provider biases, proper education, higher standards and accountability.
  • Community: Advocacy, awareness, and compassion.
  • Culturally: Support and understanding (counter of taboos and cultural nuances).
  • Individually: Self-awareness, courage, taking the first step, etc.

BWJP: Are there any cultural or community-specific approaches to mental health that should be considered for minority populations?

Dr. Plummer: As part of acculturation , many people shed elements of their ancestral identities that may have been protective factors and mechanisms against mental health illness or systems of oppression. Therefore, it's important for minority communities to practice Sankofa (The principle of “going back and getting what was lost while looking forward to hope and possibilities of what can be”) and reconnect with some of their ancestral practices which may include but not limited to, spirituality, community practices, individual care and alignment, physical movement, and more.

BWJP: How can individuals and communities support and advocate for minority mental health?

Dr. Plummer: In the spirit of Bebe Moore Campbell, it is important that advocacy includes:

  • Using one's platform, no matter how big or small, to speak up and out on issues of mental health.
    • Use your own personal experiences and/or the experiences of others (while maintaining their privacy) to ensure that the advocacy is relatable, understandable, and actionable.
    • Address mental health via conversation in your families, friend groups, and workplace.
    • Identify and manage your own mental health. Participate in therapy, reflection, introspection, cognitive restriction, behavioral changes, and spiritual/ancestral alignment.
    • Take a break from advocacy, when needed, to prevent burnout.

BWJP: What resources and organizations are available to provide assistance and support for minority mental health?

Dr. Plummer: These are just some available resources out there; I encourage everyone to reach out for support and assistance in a way that works best for them. My therapy group is available to contact for more information on the services we provide.

Follow Dr. Plummer on Instagram here: @onyxtherapygroup @mahoganysunshine

TAGS: #BWJP Announcements #News #Women

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