By Shelja Touri- July 2023
We, humans, are inexorably connected to the places we exist in. We might not always recognize it on a conscious level, however, our mental and emotional well-being are directly affected by the people and things that are closest to us. Regrettably, Black and Brown folks have been put through an unfair amount of hardship and displacement for centuries – which has had a detrimental impact on society as a whole. Despite all those in power's attempts to bring us down, steal our rights or impede our progress, our communities still stand strong with bravery.
Systemic racism puts People of Color up against monumental odds, yet there is a saving grace that makes it possible for them to thrive even in strained circumstances. This magic potion consists of culture, community, and connection – all of which give POC the strength to not just survive but also to flourish!
So, even with all the odds stacked against them, People of Color still made it. From the days of bondage to today's world filled with bigotry, Black and Brown people have had no choice but to depend on each other. The higher-ups have tried to completely wipe out their presence in every single way imaginable: they've tried making them blend in, they've stolen their cultures and identities away, even eradicating languages—they'll stop at nothing. Sometimes, it feels like people of color are living in an endless war. Oppression has been trying to keep them down for centuries, yet they've been able to resist and revolt against all the odds. And through all this struggle, their voices have remained disturbingly mute when it comes to discussing mental health.
Frequently, the African American and Latinx communities are seen as solely hapless casualties of bigotry and inequity. But what if we shifted that dialogue? What if our tales were about inclusion, friendship, and safety? If we created a robust base in our societies for mutual aid, how much more prosperous would we be?
It's no surprise that Communities of Color have a massive influence on our world. Theirs is a bond like no other, with their culture, stories, artistry and more continually finding ways to come together in the face of adversity. From social reform movements to health & wellness education and beyond– these communities are showing strength despite any attempts to minimize them. It's nothing short of remarkable, and we should all take notice.
It's really quite remarkable how much Black and Brown folks have been able to persevere through the harshest of circumstances. It's all thanks to our ancestral wisdom and unwavering support for each other. That's why cultural centers are so instrumental in preserving our history—it's an invaluable reminder of our collective identity, with traditions that could be forgotten otherwise.
The beauty of communion isn't only beneficial to us, it's advantageous for those around us too. When we find ourselves stuck in a traumatic hole, seeking advice from others is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. We generate mutual comprehension and love when we bring ourselves together–we become each other's foundation during bleak situations. We can fuel each other to keep going or supply assistance when things feel overwhelming; that's the strength of unity.
Tending to mental health in minority communities is a long-standing issue, but there's an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle that's often overlooked– reaching out to trusted peers. It's essential that we amplify awareness of existing resources and remind our companions to seek the help they deserve, no matter what.
It's a pain-staking truth that folks of color often don't get the mental health help they need. Accessibility, application rates, and quality of care are huge red flags especially when we think of how frequently mental issues strike these populations. The fact is, there's a pronounced gap in their emotional wellness that can't be overlooked. Put simply, there's a real difference in their ability to get good healthcare services. Regrettably, minorities have fewer resources and less opportunity to gain dependable mental health aid. It's a dire situation in minority circles when it comes to mental health. We don't have the research to truly paint a picture of how bad it is, but one thing's for sure – the disparity between white and people-of-color access to healthcare is wide. But there are still signs of hope as some researchers begin cracking away at this issue. We need to rid racism from mental health care if we want to see any real change; that means doing whatever's necessary to get those who need help the proper resources, and make their experience satisfactory. We need to make sure that people of color are supported in their mental health journey if we want to close the gap in services. This means providing access to therapy and backup in traditionally excluded neighborhoods, teaching folks about what mental wellness looks like, shattering stigma, and maintaining fairness regardless of race or heritage. At the end of the day, we have to look at this from a holistic angle--including both large-scale initiatives and individual narratives within these communities.