Minority Mental Health Month: How Individuals Experience Different Challenges

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated November 21, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Although mental health disorders do not discriminate based on gender, race, ethnicity, age, or other demographic factors, certain situations and backgrounds may make it more difficult for someone to receive support and treatment. People in certain minority groups may be more likely to face obstacles that are unique to them, such as financial barriers and stigma surrounding mental health. This Minority Mental Health Month, which is celebrated every year in July, you can be an active agent in creating awareness of the mental health challenges faced by people in minority groups.

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Exploring Minority Mental Health Month

Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is designed to create more understanding and empathy and ultimately bring more resources to the fight against mental illness among people in minority communities.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five Americans experiences a mental illness each year, and minorities are no exception. Having a month dedicated specifically to them may help reduce disparities in care and expand resources for mental health care. 

Recognizing Minority Mental Health Month

Whether you are part of a minority group or not, you can effect change and support mental health care for minority communities. Below are some ideas to spread awareness:

  • Educate yourself and then tell others about what you’ve learned.
  • Encourage your loved ones to seek mental health help when they need it.
  • Use social media and word-of-mouth to spread important information.
  • Get involved in local campaigns that celebrate or help individuals in minority groups.
  • Attend events centered on the needs or concerns of people in minority groups.
  • Organize a group to have an open dialogue and spread awareness.
  • Speak up when you hear something that is incorrect, hurtful, or biased.

No matter how you choose to recognize Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, your voice matters and can make a difference. You can become a positive force in the fight to eliminate stigmas and make mental health care more accessible for people in minority groups.

Supporting the Mental Health of People In Minority Groups 

Individuals from minority groups can face inequality in everyday life as well as in the mental health care system. Supporting the mental health of these communities is something in which everyone can participate. Below are a few strategies for supporting the mental health needs of people in minority communities:

Be encouraging: Sometimes, people just need someone to listen to them. There are situations in which someone may not know where to turn next. When this happens, you might recommend that they seek the support of a therapist, whether in person or online, and check in on them every now and again.

Ask questions: It’s okay to be curious about people from different cultures and backgrounds. However, rather than making assumptions, you might try respectfully asking questions when they’re appropriate. If someone doesn’t want to talk about the same topic you’d like to discuss, this doesn’t necessarily mean they never will; it may just be that the time isn’t right. 

Take the time to learn: There are plenty of resources available whenever you’re ready to learn about minority communities and the mental health challenges they may experience. From books to documentaries to online studies, there is helpful information available. Educating yourself about different cultures and the unique obstacles they may face can help you gain more understanding and empathy for the people around you.

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Show respect and empathy: Part of showing respect is often realizing that you don’t have all the answers and there may be some things you don’t quite understand. You can still speak with kindness, empathy, and respect and listen attentively.

Avoid contributing to stigmas: Making assumptions, giving in to stereotypes, or labeling people can cause harm, even if it’s unintended. Instead, you might seek to gain an understanding of the things with which you’re unfamiliar and try to pick up as much knowledge as you can. If you make a mistake, you can apologize, learn from it, and be careful not to repeat it in the future.

Mental health can be a difficult topic to discuss, especially with so many factors at play. Since everyone thinks about and approaches mental health differently, each conversation you have may vary. It may help to remain sensitive, especially with topics like mental health. The more you learn, the more you may be able to help educate others, spread awareness, and ultimately create positive change in the world.

Common Mental Health Challenges

Underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis: A lack of cultural understanding from mental health professionals can create scenarios in which someone’s condition is either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Their mental health concerns may be downplayed or not taken seriously. They may also face language barriers, and there can be cultural differences in describing symptoms. Further, there may be stigmas surrounding mental illness among some minority groups, which can create a delay in diagnosis and ultimately treatment.

Persistent depression: Although research shows that the rates of depression are lower for people who are Black or Hispanic than for people who are white, research also shows that depression can last longer in minority populations. In addition, the type of depression being experienced is more likely to be described as severe or debilitating.

Fatigue: Individuals from minority communities may frequently encounter stressors like racism and other types of discrimination. Over time, the exhaustion from dealing with prejudice, micro-aggressions, and other challenges can create a kind of fatigue that adds to a person’s mental health challenges.

Lack of awareness: In general, those belonging to a minority group may be less educated about mental health. This may be especially true when a cultural stigma surrounding mental health exists in their community. The result is that many individuals do not reach out for support when they need it.

Anxiety: Many things can create anxiety disorders, one of them being lack of income. Statistically, people in minority groups are more likely to come from lower-income backgrounds. Feeling constant pressure and worry about money can cause people to develop anxiety and other concerns.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Those from minority groups may be more likely to experience traumatic events, such as domestic violence,* rape, gun violence, or assault. These events, especially when they aren’t discussed, may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lack of care: Even if someone receives a diagnosis or wants to reach out for mental health care, they may not have the means to do so. Lack of income, transportation problems, and social stigmas can create barriers to receiving support.

*If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.

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Effective Treatment Options

For potential treatment options for the conditions listed above, please see below.

Multicultural Counseling

Multicultural counseling describes a type of practice that takes into account how someone’s mental health may be influenced by their cultural identity. Identity could include aspects like race, religion, income, disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, health conditions, immigration status, living environment, and more.

For decades, most counseling positions were filled by white men. People of color, as well as women, were less likely to become counselors. Even today the distribution of available counselors does not reflect the demographics of the country. Due to this disparity, people in minority communities may have a harder time finding a therapist who can understand their life experiences and relate more easily to them.

Training in multicultural counseling can equip professionals of all backgrounds to be sensitive to the unique needs and challenges of minorities. Whether there are concerns stemming from racism, discrimination, or other experiences, counselors who are trained in multicultural counseling can be better equipped to offer the right support. Multicultural counseling can increase empathy and, in many cases, improve the client’s overall experience in therapy.

Online Therapy

If you’re experiencing mental health challenges, whether related to your background or not, you may benefit from speaking with a licensed therapist in your community. If you don’t feel comfortable going to a therapist’s office, you might consider online therapy. With an online therapy service like BetterHelp, you can be matched with a therapist from a similar background as yours, and you can communicate with them via live chat, phone, videoconferencing, and in-app messaging.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of online therapy. One study published in Psychotherapy Research found that internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (iCBT) had advantages like “lower cost, no travel time, no waitlists, and trackable progress.”


Minority Mental Health Awareness Month can be a good time to raise awareness of unique mental health challenges that people in minority communities face. If you’re experiencing mental health concerns, you may benefit from speaking to an online therapist. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a licensed counselor who has cultural competence to better understand the challenges faced by people in minority groups. Once you sign up with BetterHelp, you’ll be able to connect with your therapist by phone, video chat, or an online chat feature. Take the first step toward improved mental health and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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