May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and IECF is proud to support local organizations that are working to increase awareness and provide much-needed services during a growing mental health crisis that has been compounded by the pandemic. It’s especially important to note that racial inequities have long been prevalent among people of color, who have similar rates of mental illness but are less likely to receive mental health services compared to those who are white. When racial and ethnic minorities do receive help, research has shown that their care is more likely to be poor in quality.
IECF is committed to using philanthropy to create a fairer Inland Empire, and we prioritize equity, inclusion, and diversity in our community work. Read more about one of our recent IE Black Equity Fund Grantees, Clay Counseling, and how they’re creating change in the system while providing counseling, training and tools to community members in the Inland Empire.
What can we do as individuals to help stem the growing tide of mental health stigma and discrimination? Here are a few pointers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
- Talk openly about mental health, such as sharing on social media.
- Educate yourself and others – respond to misperceptions or negative comments by sharing facts and experiences.
- Be conscious of language – remind people that words matter.
- Encourage equality between physical and mental illness – draw comparisons to how they would treat someone with cancer or diabetes.
- Show compassion for those with mental illness.
- Be honest about treatment – normalize mental health treatment, just like other health care treatment.
- Let the media know when they are using stigmatizing language presenting stories of mental illness in a stigmatizing way.
- Choose empowerment over shame – “I fight stigma by choosing to live an empowered life. To me, that means owning my life and my story and refusing to allow others to dictate how I view myself or how I feel about myself.” – Val Fletcher, responding on Facebook to the question, How do you fight stigma?
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